Students’ joy over help to work scheme

Project Search students outside Blackpool Town Hall.
Project Search students outside Blackpool Town Hall.
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Blackpool’s job scheme for youngsters with learning disabilities is back for a second year.

The Project Search programme, which is run by Blackpool Council, learning disability charity, The Royal Mencap Society, Blackpool and The Fylde College and the town’s three special schools – Park, Woodlands and Highfurlong – has taken on 10 new students this September with the aim of getting them all in to work come June.

Each of the students will spend two months in a classroom at Blackpool Council’s offices on Bickerstaffe Square, where they will learn personal and jobs skills before embarking on sessions of work placements to find a suitable job for them.

Last year, seven out of the 10 students with Project Search managed to secure full time work, above the average for similar projects across the world.

In Blackpool, 1.8 per cent of the population have learning disabilities and less than seven per cent of them are in employment.

Coun Simon Blackburn, leader of Blackpool Council said: “Having a disability should not be a barrier towards getting in to work and becoming independent.

“Our aim with Project Search was always to help the students develop the skills and confidence that would help them gain permanent and full time jobs. I’m delighted with what we managed to achieve in the first year and wish this year’s new recruits the best of luck.”

The new students are now all looking forward to getting started.

Jack Hammill, 18, from central Blackpool, joined the project after hearing about it at Blackpool and The Fylde College.

Jack said: “It’s a massive project for me and I think it will help a lot more than trying to apply for jobs and being unsuccessful. I love working around computers and hope that can I find a job working with them.”

Brittany Morris, from Layton, added: “Over the summer I did some work experience in a café. I’d always wanted to get a job but that got me even more ready.

“I love helping people and being nice so I hope I can get a job that involves that – maybe with the hospital.”

The students work with special education teachers from Blackpool and The Fylde College, as well as a support worker from Mencap, to help the pupils achieve their goal of a permanent job.

Rachel Baldwin, employment co-ordinator at Mencap, said: Project Search has shown that it can work and does by providing young adults with self-confidence and skills to get to where they want to in life.”