Home Children and Young People A recipe for success – how supported internships got George cooking
An image of a man (George) preparing food in a kitchen

A recipe for success – how supported internships got George cooking

by Guy Murphy

A Knowsley resident has shared his career journey and urged young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) to consider a supported internship as a route into employment.

George’s journey into work began in 2019 when he joined Knowsley Community College’s Supported Internship programme with a keen interest in a career in catering.

Supported Internships are a structured, work-based study programme for 16 – 24-year-olds with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). To enable George to explore his interests, the programme team secured him a placement in the kitchen department at Alt Bridge Secondary Support Centre

Finding his feet

George’s programme was split into four days a week working at Alt Bridge Secondary Support Centre and one day a week at college learning employability and functional skills.

George said: “I was quite nervous on my first day as it was a totally new environment. However, thanks to the friendly and supportive team I was quickly able to find my feet.”

“My manager and mentor Sheena played an important role in helping me settle in and was always on hand to offer advice and guidance when I needed it.”

Learning new tasks

One of George’s early tasks was to learn about the different chopping boards and their specific uses as well as where they belonged in the kitchen. Sheena took the time to explain these details to him ensuring he understood their importance in food preparation and safety.

George added: “Having never worked in a commercial kitchen, it was interesting to learn about safe food preparation and its importance. Sheena was always on hand to offer advice and guidance and ensure that I felt comfortable with all the new information.

George’s other tasks included preparing salads, making sandwiches, and ensuring that all food items were properly labelled with date labels.

As George settled into his placement, he became more confident, developed his teamwork skills, time management skills and communication skills.

George said: “From day 1 of my placement, the team made me feel really welcome, this helped me to settle in quickly and I loved going into the kitchen each day.

Securing permanent employment

George continued to progress through his placement, with his skills and confidence growing. Thanks to all of his hard work, commitment and determination, George was offered a permanent position at the end of his internship.

George has now been employed at Alt Bridge since September 2020 and is still loving his job.  He has more responsibilities, including cooking the food and serving staff and pupils at break and dinner times. His hours of work have also increased.

George added: “There are lots of things I love about my job; I love working as part of a team and I get on really well with the staff, they’re funny and I enjoy having a laugh with them. I also enjoy serving the students and chatting with them.

“It is also great to earn my own money as I can treat myself and save up for things that I want to buy or enjoy.”

Sheena, Chef Supervisor at Alt Bridge School said: “George is such a lovely young man with a very positive attitude.  He is eager to learn, and picks things up quickly.  He is always happy to help out when needed and we would be lost without him.

“Having been a student himself at Alt Bridge School, George is a positive role model for all our students, his hard work and commitment demonstrating his successful journey from internship to employment.”

More about Supported Internships

Knowsley Council and St Helens Council are working with St Helens and Knowsley College to support young people with an Education, Health, and Care Plan (EHCP) gain valuable work experience and prepare for future employment.

The Supported Internship Programme is a structured, work-based study programme for 16 to 24-year-olds with SEND (special educational needs and disabilities). The core aim of a supported internship study programme is a substantial work placement, facilitated by the support of an expert job coach.

The programme starts in September and runs over one academic year, giving interns the chance to experience a work placement throughout the year, supported by their job coach.

As part of the course, each student attends work placement (this can be up to four days per week), to gain valuable skills and experience.  Students also attend college one day a week, to develop their employability and independence skills with the Employability Tutor.

Previously, students on the internship have secured work placements with organisations such as Amazon, Claire House, Whiston Hospital, Shakespeare North Playhouse, Everton in the Community and Knowsley Council

You can learn more about Support Internships online or by getting in touch with the team: Supported Internship Co-Ordinator: siadmin@sthelens.ac.uk