Alex Smyth and Jordan Ruhuma who are on supported internships at Barking Riverside

A new type of internship is giving young people with learning disabilities and autistic spectrum conditions a chance to gain paid employment and independence.

The one year long Reach Supported Internship Programme prepares young people aged 16-24 for adulthood and employment.

The students are supported by a team that includes family, an instructor and a supported employment specialist, who works with the student on a one-to-one basis in the workplace.

It has been launched by Barking & Dagenham College in close collaboration with local employers. The first three internships are now underway, provided by Barking Riverside Ltd, L&Q and ENVAC. The young people get to work in 3 different departments, so they gain experience of different job roles and workplace skills.

18 year old Alex Smyth from Dagenham has a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome and he can have difficulties with social skills and attention and listening. Alex began his first job with ENVAC, picking up the necessary skills very quickly.

Dave Buckley ENVAC Managing Director said: “Alex is a great lad. Initially quiet but who has opened up as he has got to know the team. He can be trusted to get on with his jobs unsupervised and will contribute to discussions within the office.  Additionally what he doesn’t know about games and gaming isn’t worth knowing!”  

Jordan Ruhuma, 19 years old from Newham has moderate learning difficulties. He likes his work to be perfect and he pays attention to detail with a high level of concentration. He is motivated to learn but has auditory memory difficulties; the one-to-one support of an employment specialist has been of great benefit to Jordan in his work placement at L&Q Construction as instructions have been broken down one at a time and repeated.

Steve Haywood, Senior Site Manager L&Q, said: “Jordan is a great addition to our team.  He is always smiling and is keen to learn new skills and mixes well with the rest of the team.”

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