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Moorfields Eye Hospital Creating Lifechanging Jobs For Young People With Learning Disabilities in London

An innovative partnership is transforming the lives of young people with learning disabilities in London.

Ten students have recently graduated through the collaboration between DFN Project SEARCH and Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust with four graduates already in full-time employment.

1000 young people have now graduated and secured full-time employment through DFN Project SEARCH programmes in the UK.

DFN Project SEARCH CEO Maura Lynch said: “Our partnership at Moorfield’s Eye Hospital is changing lives for the better.”


An innovative partnership is helping to change the lives of young people with learning disabilities in London.

DFN Project SEARCH is working with Moorfield’s Eye Hospital to transform the employment prospects of young people with learning disabilities and autism.

The Moorfields Eye Hospital DFN Project SEARCH programme first began in September 2018, providing interns with a one-year transition to work programme in their final year of school or college.

Other on-site programme delivery partners include supported employment services Kaleidoscope Sabre, City & Islington College (CANDI), London Borough of Islington Council, and MoveForward.

The students are based full-time at Moorfields Eye Hospital and have three department rotations throughout the 12-months as they gain 800 hours of skills acquisition and study for an employability qualification.

The programme offers total workplace immersion, facilitates a seamless combination of employability skills instruction, career exploration and hands-on training through a series of job rotations within the host business.

The programme also includes a full-time onsite teacher and Job Coach employment specialists to support the students in making a successful transition from education into full-time employment.

Ten students have recently graduated through the programme at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London, with four already securing full-time employment.

Job roles span care home assistants, kitchen porters, medical packing and domestic services for the NHS.

DFN Project SEARCH aims to change lives for young people with learning disabilities by helping them get great jobs.

Its locally managed programmes are a proven way of helping young people with learning disabilities get long term careers as well as helping businesses and organisations get a more inclusive workforce.

There are now over 60 local partnerships across the UK, with over 1,000 young people with learning disabilities being given a pathway into work already. Another 12 schemes are planned by the end of 2019.

DFN Project SEARCH Director and Programme Specialist Anne O’Bryan said: “Our vision is to ensure that everyone with a learning disability or autism spectrum condition can attain high-quality employment in their local area.

“The partnership with Moorfields Eye Hospital is meeting this objective, bringing students competitive and transferable job skills, and the ability to achieve meaningful employment, which is truly life-changing.

She added: “The recent graduation has shown how successful the partnership has been in its first year and we will continue to work closely with all of our project partners and the wider business community to ensure that young people in the area with learning disabilities are given the opportunity to get a good job.”

Robert Brooks, Strategic Workforce Development Manager, Moorfields Eye Hospital said: “Having completed our first academic year of the programme it’s been great to see such success so early on. Our partnership with DFN Project SEARCH has made us aspire to get even more young people with learning disabilities meaningful jobs and all of us at Moorfields Eye Hospital are proud to see our interns progress through the programme and gain confidence at work.

“It was amazing to meet our interns’ families on graduation day and hear from them about the wider impact of the programme, especially the role it has played in transforming their lives by finding purposeful employment.”

Debbie Robinson and Steve Parr of Kaleidoscope Sabre, said: “The Graduation ceremony was a unique opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the ten amazingly talented and committed young people who completed the programme and in doing so, exceeded their own personal goals by some considerable margin.”

“This Project SEARCH partnership is definitely one that has not only worked but thrived because of the full commitment of each partner. A special thanks to the host employer Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust for welcoming our interns with open arms and providing them with a huge confidence boost from the very first day.

“Special recognition also goes to the commitment of our young interns’ families for their amazing support. It’s been a great first year with fantastic outcomes for all ten graduates who are now embarking on the journey of a lifetime shaped by long, successful jobs and careers.”

Emma Lord, City and Islington College Project SEARCH Tutor, said: “Over the past nine months I have worked alongside the interns and it has been a pleasure to watch them graduate knowing that they will go on to become valued and skilled employees within their chosen field. The strength of the partnership, alongside the incredible support from the host business, has made this project highly successful.”

Vincenza De Falco, Progression Coach, DFN MoveForward Programme said: “I was delighted to see these young people graduate and being a key partner has been such a rewarding experience. Project SEARCH is a proven programme that works brilliantly well, and I have been so impressed by the on-site team including Rob from Moorfields. 

“It just shows you what amazing outcomes can be achieved when people come together for a common cause. The interns have all been amazing and I have every confidence that they will all do well in the world of work.”