From education to employment

DFN Project SEARCH is strengthening its team with its new appointments

DFN Project SEARCH CEO Claire Cookson

DFN Project SEARCH (@dfnsearch) has been welcoming some exciting new people to its talented team since the start of 2021.

DFN Project SEARCH is a leading transition to employment charity for young people with learning disabilities and autism and is working towards building a more inclusive workforce.

DFN Project SEARCH CEO Claire Cookson said:

“We are very proud to be strengthening our team at DFN Project SEARCH with such talented individuals.”

DFN Project SEARCH has strengthened its team with an array of new appointments during 2021.

DFN Project SEARCH is a transition to work programme for students with learning disabilities and autism with ambitions to get 10,000 young adults with learning difficulties and autism into full-time paid jobs over the next decade.

Over 1,480 young people have now graduated and secured full-time paid employment through DFN Project SEARCH programmes in the UK.

The pioneering programme is total workplace immersion at its very best, facilitating a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on skills training.

The DFN Project SEARCH now includes:

●      Carmel McKeogh, our Programme Specialist for the NHS , Scotland & Ireland has a background in HR and is a Former Deputy Director of Blackpool County Council and will oversee the NHS contracts within DFN Project SEARCH

●      Lily Beyer, our Programme Specialist for Wales, South West, Midlands and Portugal is a former Job Coach with DFN Project SEARCH and has a background in Supported Employment. She will manage our ambitious plans to expand into the West Midlands.

●      Emma Lord, one of our Programme Specialist for London and the South East and West Mids has previously worked as a job coach at Charring Cross site, a tutor at Moorfields Eye Hospital and most recently, her work in Norfolk has involved supporting refugees on their journey back into work.

●      Sian Foster, one of our Programme Specialist for the Northern region, is a former police officer who ran a unit dealing with child exploitation. She was previously a tutor at one of our DFN sites and also worked as a business liaison with one of our partners, Calico Housing.

●      Martin Wilby, one of our Programme Specialist for the Northern region joins from Liverpool County Council and will be our correspondent for the Northern region alongside Sian Foster.

●      Jo Busvine, our Financial Controller is an experienced chartered accountant with an international background in fields of compliance, finance, general management, audit, litigation support and general financial investigative and advisory work. She works for cancer charity St. Paul’s alongside DFN Project SEARCH.

●      Lucy Webb, one of our Programme Specialist for London South East started her career as a job coach at one of our partner sites. She has also worked for the local authority in Specialist Education Services and as the regional lead for IPS Grow, a company who supports those with ill mental health get back into work.

●      Vinny De Falco, one of our Programme Specialist London and the South East previously worked with an Autism intervention service and has a background in education as a teaching assistant and teacher for pupils with Autism. Most recently, she worked on DFN MoveForward as a Progression Coach.

●      John Lobato, our Learning and Impact Manager has a background in research and analysis, and has managed work assignments with Greenpeace in Brazil and with UNDP in Myanmar, around climate change and water/food shortage.

●      Harry Georgiou, our Youth Advisory and Co-Production Assistant completed a supported internship with Merseyside Maritme Museum and has recently finished up his studies at Sandfield School in Liverpool.

●      Sarah McQuillan, our Director of Development has had an impressive career in fundraising. She has previously worked for The Geffrye Museum in London, a Cystic Fibrosis charity and The Natural History Museum.

●      Julie Brennan, our Executive Office Manager was formerly a Logistics Manager, then Corporate Training Manager for DHL. She has also worked as a PA to the Headteacher at a Special School prior to DFN Project SEARCH.

DFN Project SEARCH CEO Claire Cookson said:

“We are very pleased to be making such positive appointments that will further strengthen our team and support our plans to grow the reach of our programme throughout the country.

“This new expertise will bring even more momentum to our ambition of transforming the lives of young people with learning disabilities and autism and will help us drive positive change in workplace culture in the UK.”

DFN Project SEARCH works to build a more inclusive society by helping to create much improved career opportunities for those with learning disabilities and autism through 75 supported internships schemes across the UK, and the charity is succeeding even in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Latest data from DFN Project SEARCH shows that in the past 12 months, 209 interns secured employment with an incredible 175 interns securing full-time well-paid work. DFN Project SEARCH interns secured these roles when the country was in full lockdown with many of the roles classified as key workers.

You can learn more about DFN Project SEARCH at 

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