Home Business and economy “The best thing that happened”: how supported internships are transforming lives in Knowsley
Chef makes pizzas in a commercial kitchen

“The best thing that happened”: how supported internships are transforming lives in Knowsley

by Guy Murphy

A member of the Knowsley Council’s catering team has shared his journey in a bid to encourage more young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) to find meaningful employment opportunities through supported internships.

Supported Internships are a structured, work-based study programme for 16 – 24-year-olds with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

After impressing during his Supported Internship Programme Terry Smith secured a permanent paid role within the Knowsley Council’ school catering department.

Terry’s story

In 2016, Terry started a supported internship with Knowsley Community College. The programme was made up of a placement role in the kitchen department of Kirkby High School for four days a week, alongside a functional and employability skills programme one day a week at the college.

When Terry found about his placement, he was delighted and couldn’t wait to start. He settled in quickly and embraced the challenges and opportunities that came with the role.

During his placement, he developed essential skills including teamwork, customer service skills, time management and working effectively to instruction.

The internship had an immediate impact on Terry, something that was noted by his mum, Chris: “The Supported Internship was the best thing that happened to Terry. He loved his placement, and he became much more independent and confident. From making friends in the workplace to developing his employment skills, the internship gave him a new purpose in life.”

Terry’s hard work and dedication did not go unnoticed and when the internship finished in July 2017 Knowsley Council offered Terry a full-time position.

Terry was delighted to become a paid member of the team and has now been employed at Kirkby High School for seven years.  His day-to-day role includes preparing food, supporting with stock taking and organising, cleaning equipment and dishes.

Terry said: “I love my job and look forward to going into work every day. From the banter and camaraderie with my teammates to the pride I feel when completing my work, it is really rewarding experience.

“Earning my own money also gives me the freedom to treat myself to nice things, including going out for a food and drinks.

“Overall, I am really proud of my achievements and grateful for the opportunities I’ve had via my supported internship. I would recommend it to others.”

Terry Lynn Durney, Knowsley Council Commercial Services Contract Manager, said: “Terry has become a valued member of the catering team since starting his internship. He has developed both his social and work skills, contributing well to the team and completing his tasks to a high stand.

“Everyone in the team comments on Terry’s sense of humour and happy demeanour. He has really had a positive impact since starting with us.”

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