GMMH joins scheme to support people with disabilities into employment | News and Events

GMMH joins scheme to support people with disabilities into employment

GMMH has joined a supported internship scheme which helps young people with extra support needs to access support, education and work experience with the end goal of progressing into permanent employment.

GMMH are working with Pure Innovations as a partner on their Greater Manchester Supported Internship programme, to provide a variety of work placements for young people who have an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP). This can include a variety of reasons, including a learning and / or physical disability, mental Health problems, autism or ADHD.

The Supported Internship programme is a collaboration between Supported Employment Specialist, Pure Innovations, and a range of partners which either act as ‘Host Employer’ or ‘Educational Provider’. Partners include Elms Bank College, Trafford College, Fairfield Hospital (Northern Care Alliance) and Trafford Hospital (Manchester Foundation Trust).

Through the scheme, individuals are offered opportunities to gain practical work experience in a variety of different roles at their Host Employer, whilst studying for an accredited qualification through the Education Provider in subjects such as Employability Skills and Customer Service.

Individuals are offered up to three different placements over one academic year, to make sure they gain a wide-ranging set of skills and experience. Throughout the process, they are provided with expert support from the Supported Employment Specialist’s Job Coaches and Employment Officers to make sure they settle in and progress well.

Natalie Irvine, Senior Employment Officer at Pure Innovations said:

“It is absolutely vital that we are offering equal opportunities to all young people in our communities. People with disabilities have the skills, drive and passion to succeed in a variety of roles, just like their peers.

“Through the supported internship scheme, we match individuals with roles that are right for them, and make sure that any extra support for both the individual and the employer is put in place. It is amazing to watch them go from strength to strength, gaining valuable experience, skills and confidence, whilst adding great value to the workplace.”

This support can include facilitating reasonable role adjustments to accommodate for their disability, or even carving out new, custom roles that meet the needs of both the individual and employer.

Regular one-to-one catch up sessions allow for progress to be closely monitored, and for any issues to be highlighted and resolved quickly, to ensure the whole process goes as smoothly as possible.

Staff disability awareness training is also provided, to adopt an open and inclusive environment and ensure colleagues and teammates understand how best they can communicate and work together with their interns.

Throughout the programme, the Supported Employment Specialist also helps the interns to take the next steps in their employment journey, including taking part in permanent role and salary negotiations with the employer, and offering ongoing coaching.

GMMH has now joined The Greater Manchester Supported Internship scheme, offering a variety of work placements in partnership with the lead providers. So far, six interns have been placed into roles within their Facilities department in areas such as Catering, Administration, Transport & Logistics and Domestic Services; and one has been offered a permanent position.

Joshua joined the scheme after hearing about it in his last year of high school. He said:


Joshua, Transport Assistant, Logistics Department

“I have autism and I knew that going to a big college with large class groups wouldn’t be best for me. I spoke to my teachers and parents and we agreed an internship would be a great choice, because I would be in smaller groups and be able to get practical experience, which I enjoy.

“I knew I wanted to find a role where I could help people, and where I could be around other people – and in the NHS, I could do just that.

“My first placement was at Fairfield Hospital in Administration, which was lots of fun in a really supportive team. I’m now in a role at GMMH in the Logistics Department, working with the team to deliver post all across the Trust. From the get-go, the team have been so welcoming and supportive. We have a laugh, and if I ever need help, I always feel comfortable speaking up. The extra support from Natalie at Pure Innovations has been so useful too.

“It’s hard to think about the future, and it does take a while to choose which career you’d like to get in to, but these different placements have really helped me understand my options. It’s been such a great experience so far, and a really good way to progress into what I’d call ‘adulthood’.


Joshua and supervisors

Pictured: Joshua (middle), with colleagues Eric & Chris, Driver & Transport Supervisors


GMMH joined the internship scheme in line with the Trust’s Equality and Diversity Strategy for 2019-2021, which pledged to prioritise a representative and supported workforce. It comes in anticipation of GMMH’s new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategy, due to be launched later this year, which will build upon this work.

Michelle Clarkson, Chair of the GMMH Staff Disability Network said:

“We are so delighted that the Trust has joined the Greater Manchester Supported Internship scheme, which demonstrates a real commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. This was spearheaded by our Facilities department, who worked with the lead providers to identify a variety of placements in order to develop a more diverse and represented workforce, and foster an inclusive culture.

“People with disabilities are a diverse group that have so much to bring to the table, and as an organisation we have so much to benefit from the wide-ranging skills and experiences that they bring. The impact of the scheme has been amazing, and now as we see how well our first cohort of interns are doing, our next step is to roll out the scheme across GMMH, with the aim to progress as many individuals into permanent employment as possible.”

Joanne McIntyre, Facilities Manager at GMMH said:

“It has been a pleasure to work with Pure Innovations and the other lead providers to offer a number of work placements through the scheme. All our interns have settled in so well and have become well-loved members of our teams. To see their confidence and skills grow over time, with the support of their job coaches and colleagues, has been rewarding, and we are so impressed by their hard work. They are real assets to the organisation and we are very much looking forward to growing the number of placements available soon.”

Orienne Langley-Sadler, Headteacher at Elms Bank College said:

“Elms Bank are exceptionally grateful of our links with our colleagues in the NHS who are driving the internship for our young people. So many of our young people never imagined that they could transition into work, but the internship and the support and care from their colleagues enables them to do so. This goes on to have huge benefits for our young people as they move into adulthood with a greater sense of self and worth in their community. Independence of our young people develops into other areas of their life with many learning to drive, living independently from family and sustaining their own social lives.

“The internship changes lives: for the individual, for the family members and for the aspirations of future cohorts onto the programme.”


Case Studies

“Before I joined the internship scheme, my main goal was just to get some work experience to I could get a job. I had been to college, but didn’t really know how to take the next step, or what area I wanted to get in to.

“My first internship was at Fairfield Hospital, working in the kitchen. And now I’m at GMMH working in the reception area. My role involves administration, reception duties and cleaning.

“At first I was scared, but straight away the team was really nice. We have lots of banter, talk about things we like, and look after each other. I like everything about it – the team, the managers, the building – it’s great!

“The support from Natalie at Pure Innovations has been really good too – she found the role really quickly for me, and is always there if I need any advice or support.”


Aliya, Receptionist, The Curve

Ben joined the scheme after hearing about it in college He said:

“In college, the most important thing for me was to be able to get a job.

“My first placement was at Fairfield Hospital as a COVID Marshall. I then moved to the Medical Records team at Fairfield. After this, I joined GMMH in a Catering Assistant placement.

“Joining different roles was nerve-wracking at first, but I got used to it quickly, and the teams and overall experience have been great. I have always had the ability to ask for help when I need it, and overall it has really improved my confidence.

“The different placements have helped me learn new things, and find out what I’m passionate about.

“The Catering Assistant role has definitely been my favourite. Catering was one of my best subjects at college, but I didn’t think about it being something I could do as a job – but now my goal is to stay here!

“To anyone who is interested in taking part in a supported internship scheme – give it a go. If you need any help or run into any issues along the way, speak to your Job Coach and Tutor and they can really help.”


Ben, Catering Assistant


Aliya, Joshua, ben

Pictured (from left to right): Interns Aliya, Joshua, Ben.

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