Posted on 25th October 2018
On a beautiful day at Culzean Castle & Country Park on Friday 28th September a very special celebration took place for 7 young people with a Learning Disability or Autisic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) from throughout South Ayrshire. The young people had just successfully completed an 8 month internship, working at Culzean Castle and Country Park. Each intern was commended for their hard work and dedicated commitment throughout their time at Culzean.
The interns were individually recognised and celebrated for all of their efforts at Culzean through their own special day
‘their graduation ceremony’. This gave them the opportunity to tell the audience which included their family, friends and
many of their colleagues at Culzean about their journeys as interns. The highs, the lows and what it all meant to them.
By the end of the speeches there were few dry eyes in the auditorium.
Each graduate received an award presented to them by Norman Stromsoy the CEO of DFN Foundation who
run Project SEARCH in the United Kingdom. There was also some inspired speeches from Ian Conforth
the Project SEARCH Business Liason at Culzean Castle & Country Park, Bill Logan—Project Manager, Girvan
Youth Trust and Greg Cassidy—Head of Essential Skills, Ayrshire College. All with wise words for the
Interns about moving in to Employment.
So what is Project SEARCH?
Project SEARCH is a unique and successful employment scheme for young people aged 17 – 24 with a Learning
Disability/ASD to successfully gain paid employment. This year 7 interns completed the Internship and in
year 2 which begins in January 2019 we plan to increase this to 10 interns. Each intern takes part in 3 work placements, each lasting 9 weeks throughout their internship. These placements include areas such as; gardening & grounds, rangers, catering, food service, housekeeping, retail. The feedback from the staff within the departments and from the interns has been extremely positive in our first year; with the gardening team even creating their own award for the graduation! “The Cabbage Award” which was given to an intern who was described as “someone who cheered the team up every day”. One of the longest serving gardeners Ian, who presented this award created some laughs around the auditorium with his light hearted stories about the positive experiences the interns had within his team.
Throughout the interns time within their placements they learned many new skills. They developed skills that would increase their employability, such as Punctuality, Team Work, Commitment but also many skills relating to the specific jobs they were doing including; baking within catering, planting in gardening, pricing items in retail. Each intern builds an
array of skills that will help lead to successful employment.
When in their placement the interns are supported by our full-time on site job coach.
Their role is to identify each individuals support needs within their job role and to come up with approaches to overcome any barriers they may face. This is vital for the success of the young people and for the staff at Culzean to know there is always someone at hand if required. The interns full day at Culzean is 9am till 4pm and their work placement is 10am till 3pm, 5 days a week. For many this is a massive change to their lifestyles but it has been admirable to see how quickly they adjust to this and actually thrive!
There is also a full-time Job Instructor based at Culzean who spends 1hr at the beginning and end of each day with the interns, teaching them skills around employability. Including; Interview Skills, CV Writing, Job Searching etc. The young
people receive a recognised qualification for this part of the internship.
The Job Instructor is also continually active supporting the Interns to apply for jobs; building relationships with families and employers.
As previously mentioned the main aim of Project SEARCH is to gain paid employment for 16 hours +. It was a fantastic achievement for the young people to graduate from their internship at Culzean however that is not the end of their journey with Project SEARCH.
We will continue to support each of the graduates to gain employment and within the workplace. This is when all their learning and experience gained at Culzean will be put in to practice in the world of work.
If you are interested or may know someone who would be interested in applying for the January 2019
intake for Project SEARCH South Ayrshire please contact;
Daryl on 07703464027 email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Clare Baird on 07718312910 email email@example.com.
Closing Date for Applications is 1st November 2018.
Three main partners manage Project SEARCH South Ayrshire – Girvan Youth Trust, Ayrshire College and NTS Culzean
Castle and Country Park we also receive much appreciated ongoing support from other partners including;
Skills Development Scotland, Employability & Skills SAC, the Department of Work & Pensions and the Chamber of
Commerce amongst others.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of our funders who have helped to make Project SEARCH happen
in South Ayrshire. These are; the Grants Youth Opportunities Fund, Bairdwatson, Gannochy Trust, the BIG Lottery
Investing in Communities Fund, South Ayrshire health & social care partnership & the Developing Young Workforce Fund.