Burnley Calico interns come out on top at national awards

Interns at Calico Enterprise have been recognised at this year’s national Spotlight Awards.
Project SEARCH interns Tegan, Chelsea and George.Project SEARCH interns Tegan, Chelsea and George.
Project SEARCH interns Tegan, Chelsea and George.

The interns, all of whom live with learning disabilities and/or autism, won the Community Influence category in recognition of the hard work and collaboration shown in establishing and managing a dedicated Facebook page that breaks down barriers and encourages community engagement.

The national Spotlight awards are hosted by DFN Project SEARCH a leading transition to employment charity for young people with learning disability and autism.

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To date, more than 1,480 young people have now graduated and secured full-time paid employment through DFN Project SEARCH programmes in the UK.

After reflecting on their experiences of feeling marginalized in their local community, the interns at Calico felt there was a need to educate a wider audience around the skills they could bring to the workplace.

They opted to set up their own Facebook page to share stories, successes and provide honest accounts of their journeys.

Continuing to grow in popularity, the page reaches a multitude of people in the local community, addressing issues and common misconceptions surrounding learning difficulties and Autism.

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Additionally, the page has generated increased interest in recruitment by educating, inspiring and empowering prospective interns through wholehearted and inspirational posts.

Lindsey Danson, Calico Enterprise service operations manager, said: "We have now delivered the (DFN Project SEARCH) programme since 2018 and are about to enter our fourth year. It has been an amazing journey in which we have learned a lot.

"Our interns have been involved in some important work over the years but particularly this year, as it has been such a challenging one.

"As an employer, we have learned a lot from our interns. They have helped us to be even more inclusive and have helped us grow in confidence around supporting people with learning difficulties and autism.

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"Winning this award is an amazing recognition of all the hard work that the interns, staff and partners put into making sure that we deliver meaningful work placements that allow our interns to progress into long term work. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who has supported us along this journey so far.”

Claire Cookson, chief executive of DFN Project SEARCH, said “Huge congratulations to all the winners, we’ve seen some fantastic achievements for another year running, which is a testament to everyone involved in the DFN Project SEARCH programmes across the country.

"Together we are transforming lives for many young people with learning disabilities and autism, helping them to be recognised as a fantastic talent for employers.”