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Supported internships - project choice

Supported Internships for 16-24 year olds with disabilities, learning disabilities, difficulties and/or Autism.

The programme is delivered within NHS organisations and supported by Health Education England. 

Project Choice is a programme that helps young adults gain work experience and improve employability and independence skills. We provide internships within healthcare settings and other NHS partner organisations in supported environments helping to get individuals ready for the working world. Our support is tailored to each person and we match employment options to each person’s skills. Our students spend 1 year learning work skills in three placements, each placement is up to 12 weeks long.

Those on the programme have the following to say

I feel like an adult. I have traveled to work in-dependently, done my job and traveled home independently - just like other workers. I’m so proud of myself, I want to keep working”

Project Choice has made me have hope and also it gave me an idea of what I want to do when I leave the course.”

Organisations involved are just as supportive

Having a person with learning difficulties in the department has had a positive effect. It has made us much more aware of how we communicate with people and it has given a great boost to everyone in the department.”

City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust

Read some of our real life stories

Stage 1

• Students still in school/college settings can complete work experience which offers term time placements, which usually last six weeks, but can be shorter.
• Training is provided to the learner with the support of a mentor.
• Learners start work at 9.30am and finish at 12.15. Slight variations around this time can be negotiated with the schools.
• After each cohort of learners have completed their work experience, they are presented with a certificate.


Stage 2

Interns are in work for four days per week with one day per week studying.
• The year is split up into three terms.
• Interns may initially be accompanied by Project Choice’s job coach, until they have
developed the knowledge and skills to work independently.
• The working day for an intern is negotiable, depending on the placement.
• Interns will already travel independently, or will be on a training programme to achieve this.
• There will be regular, honest reviews of the intern’s progress.
• The area manager, coordinator or the job coach will always be available to support the intern.


• Young adults aged 16 – 24 years

• Have an Education Health and Care Plan

• Live within one of our current Local Authority Partnerships:

- Brent London Borough Council

- Darlington Borough Council

- Doncaster Council

- Durham County Council

- Ealing London Borough Council

- East Riding of Yorkshire Council

- Hampshire County Council

- Hartlepool Borough Council

- Hillingdon London Borough Council

- Middlesbrough Council

- Newcastle City Council

- Northumberland County Council

- North Tyneside Council

- North Yorkshire County Council

- Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council

- Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

- Sheffield City Council

- South Tyneside Council

- Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

- York City Council

• The learner has a work experience placement where they are a valued member of the team
and contribute to the smooth running of the department.
• The learner behaves as a responsible member of the workforce.
• The learner is treated as a member of staff.
• The learner is always with a trained mentor.
• The learner and their mentor have a positive learning journey.

• To empower learners and build their confidence as individuals in the workplace.
• To change perceptions of learning difficulties, disabilities and Autism within the workplace.
• To raise awareness of the value that the learners can add to the workplace.
• To increase the diversity of the workforce and promote equality of opportunity.
• To provide learners with a life experience outside of their home and school.
• To develop the learners’ knowledge of work and work opportunities.
• To create a pathway into employment for those with disabilities, learning difficulties or
disabilities, and Autism.
• To widen access into the NHS workforce.

• The intern is a valued member of the team and contributes to the smooth running of the
• The intern is able to take on a workload.
• The intern demonstrates clear progression towards employment.
• The intern is treated as a member of staff.
• The intern begins to behave as a responsible member of the workforce.
• The intern eventually works independently.
• The intern and their mentor work together to achieve a positive learning experience.

If you would like to know more about Project Choice and how you can become involved contact us on project.choice@hee.nhs.uk 

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