For the past year The Royal Foundation of St Katharine has been working with Tower Project, a local charity, which enables and empowers people with disabilities to develop opportunities, become independent, participate fully in education, employment and have a voice in the community.
During their Supported Internship the Tower Project students have gained experience in several departments working in St Katharine’s House, St Katharine’s Precinct and Yurt Cafe. The students have been an amazing help to the St Katharine’s team while learning lots about the world of work and have also inadvertently provided St Katharine’s staff with direct relevant disability awareness training. See for yourself the wonderful, reciprocal effect the Tower Project internship has had on everyone involved:
The Tower Project JET (Job, Enterprise and Training) Supported Internship at St Katharine has been a real success in providing the students with transferable skills preparing them to seek employment opportunities in all areas of hospitality and catering. The success of the projects can be attributed to a number of factors. The Tower Project spends a lot of time understanding the students and getting to know their needs and personalities. While on the internship, the students have dedicated support workers who guide them as they undertake duties at St Katharine’s.
The Tower Project also provides specialist Disability Employment Advisors for each student. These Advisors have been specifically trained to support JET students throughout their journey with the service from the initial assessment and planning stages to helping students to sustain their employment once in paid work. One of St Katharine’s guiding charitable tenets is ‘Service to others’ which means that St Katharine’s staff were able to be generous with their time & patience. St Katharine’s will now work with Tower Project to communicate to other organisations and businesses the benefits of the programme for both the students and the organisation.
The post-Brexit world may present challenges for employers. Considering only 6% of disabled people in the UK are in employment as of 2015, the opportunities to employ people with learning disabilities are plentiful. Hospitality and Catering are the best sectors for potential learning disabled employees where there are many job vacancies and it is relatively easy to train in the necessary skills.
The success of the Supported Intern Project at St Katharine’s has resulted in a lot of attention for the Tower Project programme. This attention has even gone so far as mainland Europe!
In June, St Katharine’s had the pleasure of hosting a selection of interested parties providing Vocational Training for disabled people from France and Portugal. The groups included academics, employers, parents, young people and training providers who wanted to see the Tower Project students in action at our wonderful urban oasis. The Erasmus visitors learned a great deal about the best methods of supporting people with learning disabilities to be ready to enter the workplace. The Tower Project JET Supported Internship is so unique in being the only service provider chosen for the Erasmus visit.
The visit was organised by the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) – Linda Jordan from NDTi was extremely pleased:
“I am writing to thank you so much for hosting the Erasmus visit on Wednesday. Not only were the visitors impressed with the partnership between yourselves and the Tower Project and the fantastic interns but also with your beautiful place. Your hospitality was superb – the food and welcome – but having a Portuguese and a French member of staff was truly the icing on the cake – and they were both fabulous. A perfect day – thank you again for such a warm welcome and quality experience.”