From education to employment

Bracknell SEND Student Creates a Recipe for Success

A former Supported Internship student from Bracknell and Wokingham College has successfully started an apprenticeship scheme with Sodexo, an international food and facilities management services company working at over 2,000 client sites in the UK and Ireland.

Dylan began studying at Bracknell and Wokingham College in 2019. As he was eager to enter the world of work and had already secured himself a part-time job alongside his studies, following conversations with his tutors, he decided to apply for the Supported Internship Programme, which he started in September 2022, with a placement at Sodexo.

The Supported Internship Programme is run by Activate Learning in partnership with Ways into Work. It is available to any UK student who has an Educational Health and Care Plan (EHCP) and wishes to obtain paid employment but requires support to achieve this. Students spend one day in college studying employability skills and three days out at work with a host business.

When he started his Supported Internship, Dylan was very nervous about the change in environment and working with people he didn’t know. It took a lot of courage for him to attend the assessment day, and he nearly didn’t attend. But once he got through the door, the team put him at ease, and he hasn’t looked back since. 

In November, only two months after Dylan started at Sodexo, with support from both the Sodexo team and his Ways into Work job coach, Mel Stevens, he applied for and secured a 30-hours a week paid contract as a General Services Assistant.

Dylan has recently started an apprenticeship to become a chef. He does on-the-job training while at work and completes his written assessments in his own time. The training is supported by the whole kitchen team at Sodexo, with Adam, the Head Chef, taking a lead in passing on his classical training. Dylan is now confident in butterflying chicken and other cooking methods.

One of his favourite tasks, is preparing hot breakfasts for employees, including preparing eggs to order, something which would be nerve-wracking for most people!

Dylan says: “I loved my job even before I got paid, so now it’s even better. It’s win-win. Getting paid to do a job I love; I’m living the dream.”

Dylan’s advice to anyone in a similar position: “Always give it a go, no matter how scary it seems.”

Adam Harty, Head Chef at Sodexo, said:

“From day one Dylan showed great potential that he could go far in this industry. 

“He has a great character, always up for a laugh and very well motivated, which makes such a difference in the team.

“This level of motivation from a young individual is very impressive and motivates the whole team.”

Liz Gentry, Facilities Manager, Sodexo, couldn’t be more positive about the Supported Internship Programme:

“From my team’s point of view it’s fantastic development for them too, adapting their leadership style to different interns, and they find it very rewarding.

“When an intern finds the department that clicks with them, they change so quickly. We don’t do anything differently; it’s just about recognising that person’s needs around learning and development.”

Organisational commitment and a supportive culture

The governance leads at Sodexo’s client site are thrilled by Dylan’s success: “It’s been fantastic to see the journey that Dylan has been on since starting with us. 

“He was initially rather shy, but he’s found a real purpose in what he’s doing which is demonstrated in how much more confident he has become. He frequently engages in discussions with employees, and with good humour too!

“Engaging with organisations such as Activate Learning allows us to commit to our company’s promises, and for the individuals, it provides valuable experience which they may not find otherwise. In a case like Dylan’s, it can help them find a passion, as well as develop critical skills for their futures.”

Miriam White, Quality Partnership Lead Coordinator at Activate Learning, says: “We are so pleased with this fantastic outcome for Dylan. 

“It’s testament to his hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm for the role. Supported internships are very much a team effort, and this outcome wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Sodexo team and the fabulous work of the Ways into Work team.”

Discover our courses for learners with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) available at Bracknell and Wokingham College

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