2. Certificate Presentation at Hobbycraft, Burton

Burton SEND student gains vital workplace skills thanks to supported internship

A Burton-based warehouse has been recognised by Staffordshire County Council as an outstanding employer in supporting young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). 


The Hobbycraft distribution centre in Burton has been taking on interns as part of the county council coordinated Supported Internships Programme for seven years. 


One of those interns is 18-year-old Georgina Woodley, who has been packing and sorting deliveries at the Burton distribution centre for the last four months. 


Georgina said: “I find it quite a lovely place to work and to help my disability and I like to help as much as possible. 


“I think I have become more capable of getting sociable and working as a group and as a team. I just love packing. It’s my favourite thing to do.” 


The Supported Internships Programme enables SEND students aged 16 to 24 years to learn valuable employment skills in the workplace, supported by a job coach, alongside their college studies. 


Hobbycraft has successfully taken on three interns every year since becoming a part of the programme and went on to offer many interns permanent positions. 


The three interns they took on in the first year of the programme are still employed with Hobbycraft today. 


People manager at Hobbycraft, Zoe Johnson, said: “It’s something that we are very excited to be a part of. I think it is very important that we support the local community and also students with learning disabilities to give them access to work. It really fits with our strategy and culture here at Hobbycraft.” 


Staffordshire County Council awarded Hobbycraft Burton a certificate in recognition of their contribution towards supporting young people with SEND in a small celebration at the distribution centre on Thursday 13 June.  


To businesses that are unsure about joining the Supported Internship Programme, Zoe said: “When costs are tight, people are always trying to make their business more efficient and think this programme might be another headache they don’t need. 


“However, we’ve found that, if you can match the intern with the role, they tend to be very conscientious, they want to do a good job, they want to be at work and absence is practically nonexistent. It’s a win, win really. They get positive fulfilment out of being here, but it adds value also to the rest of our colleagues.”


Darryl Eyers, Staffordshire County Council’s Director for economy, infrastructure and skills, said: “We are very proud to be working alongside organisations, such as Hobbycraft, that strive to be inclusive and provide more employment opportunities to people with SEND. 


“Under our Supported Internships Programme, Staffordshire employers get fully funded support from education and training providers. 


“It is a fantastic way to diversify your staff, give existing employees development opportunities in mentoring and access a talent pool of passionate and punctual long-term employees.” 


If you are a business interested in helping a young person with SEND into employment, make this week – Learning Disability Awareness week – the week you help kickstart someone’s career. 


Visit Supported Internships – Staffordshire County Council to find out more. 


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