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Sofitel London Heathrow teams up with ProjectSEARCH

Project Search Recruits- Sofitel Heathrow
Sofitel London Heathrow – the airport’s only premium hotel directly connected to Terminal 5 - is one of only fourteen sites across the UK working in partnership with REMPLOY and ProjectSEARCH to contribute to the organisations one very simple goal; to help give young people with learning disabilities the skills to gain competitive paid employment.

ProjectSEARCH offers internships for young people with learning disabilities with large employers and Sofitel London Heathrow is proud to be working with ten students from their local councils of Ealing and Hillingdon and Hammersmith & West London College.  The interns, who have a variety of different learning difficulties are in employment with the hotel for nine months on a supported internship working within the academic calendar Monday – Friday from 9am until 3pm.  The student’s internship also includes dedicated onsite classroom time with a tutor from the college to assess how their day has gone and to learn other communication, problem solving and job skills.  

ProjectSEARCH’s primary objective is to secure full-time, paid employment for young people with intellectual, developmental and physical difficulties and the key to this programme is to bring together education, training and work skills in a real-life working environment.  During their time at the hotel, the interns will work across three different junior operational roles within the hotel - one in each term - with roles in the staff canteen, kitchen, guest relations, meetings and events, room service, restaurant and house-keeping.  The aim is very much focused on immersing the interns into a work environment whilst assessing their needs and teaching them about the responsibility and requirements expected from them in a workplace.  Over the year, the hotel aims to teach each student a multitude of new skills as well as providing them with a self-assurance and self-confidence that will help in the development of their future, both personally and professionally.   

Anna Dowling, General Manager of the hotel commented: ‘We are delighted to be the host business providing on-site internship experiences to young adults with learning difficulties. The students are as excited as we are to be part of this journey in preparing them for competitive employment.”  

She continues “This is our first time working with ProjectSEARCH and we are probably learning as much as the students in these early days of the project, but misconceptions of ability is something these young adults struggle with every day, and to be able to watch as they gain confidence and skills over the weeks is incredibly exciting.”  

The hotel is working alongside two job coaches who are based onsite and are there to support the interns develop in their roles.  ProjectSEARCH’s ambition is to change the way people think and challenge their ideas about what people with a learning disability can do.  It hopes to raise expectations of employability and for the general public to see people with learning disabilities hard at work as part of everyday life. By the end of the program the aim is that they will have gained the confidence and skills to acquire employment either within the hotel or elsewhere in the community.

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