Young autistic adults benefit from internships in NHS Trusts

26th February 2020

“If I had 10 of George my job would be done…” This quote from an NHS staff member sums up the success of our programme which helps young autistic adults learn new skills and move into employment through supported internships within the NHS.

CareTrade is a charity in London running The Autism Project, a two year supported internship project for 18-25 year olds with a diagnosis of autism and an education, health and care plan. We are based at Elephant and Castle and our main partners are Guys and St Thomas’ NHS Trust and The Whittington NHS Trust. We also look for external placements for our second years who want to work for a specific company or gain experience in an alternative field of work. Many of our students come to us from college, and most still live at home. We don’t take ‘a one size fits all’ approach, we work with each individual to ensure they get the support and training they need. All are supported by our job coaches.

The training on the internship is very thorough, and it gives them huge confidence. It has also given us the opportunity to train the staff in the hospitals in autism awareness, which creates an autism friendly culture for all. We have trained over 100 members of staff, including managers.

We’ve been with Guys & St Thomas’s for ten years, and supported a number of young adults into employment in the hospital. Ten of our young people have gone on to work at Guys, and others have found the experience has helped them go on to find employment.

At the Whittington hospital our students have working within departments such as the Volunteers office, Medical records, Main Theatres, Clinics and Occupational Health.

It would be great to work with more London hospitals and work to bring volunteers, internships and apprenticeships together. We offer support to employers looking to build on diversity and inclusion, with a focus on autism and neurodiversity. If you are looking for training for managers supporting an autistic colleague, we have an ‘In work Support’ service where we can come in on a regular basis and support both the staff member and their manager (this is usually free to the employer via the government Access to Work scheme).

Blog by Judith Kerem, Development Director at CareTrade