Home News Thorpe Park and DFN Project SEARCH launch a life-changing supported internship programme...

Thorpe Park and DFN Project SEARCH launch a life-changing supported internship programme for young adults with a learning disability


National SEND charity DFN Project SEARCH is launching an exciting new Supported Internship Programme at Thorpe Park Resort in Surrey, starting in September 2023.

With the latest employment figures highlighting that only 4.8% of people with a learning disability or autism spectrum condition in England are in full-time paid employment, compared to 80% of their peers, there is a clear and urgent need to support more young people with learning disabilities into the workforce.

The collaboration between DFN Project SEARCH, Merlin Entertainments and Hounslow Council will create these urgently needed inclusive employment opportunities and empower young adults with learning disabilities and/or autism through specialised training and practical work experience.

DFN Project SEARCH graduates

“Many young people dream of working at an exciting and vibrant workplace like Thorpe Park and this supported internship programme will make that dream come true for young people with SEND, said Claire Cookson, CEO of DFN Project SEARCH.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Merlin Entertainments and Hounslow Council. Through the partnership, we will offer tailored support, enriching experiences, and crucial employability skills to our interns, opening doors to fulfilling careers in the exciting world of amusement resorts.”

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During the 12-month programme, the young adults aged between 18-25 will immerse themselves in the dynamic environment of Thorpe Park, one of the UK’s leading entertainment destinations, gaining first-hand experience in various roles across the park. Interns will receive comprehensive support from skilled mentors and educators, ensuring they develop the confidence and skills necessary to succeed in their chosen career paths.

Councillor Lily Bath, Hounslow Council Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Learning said:“As a Council, we’re delighted to show our commitment to this fantastic employment programme as it is part of our Youth Skills and Employment Guarantee, and Thorpe Park is an exciting prospect for the new cohort of interns.”

“This new programme will form a central part of the DFN Project SEARCH employability campaign #InclusionRevolution, which aims to support 10,000 young adults aged between 18 – 25 with a learning disability or autism into paid employment by 2030.

Neil Poulter, Divisional Director at Thorpe Park Resort, said: Thorpe Park Resort is delighted to be working alongside DFN Project SEARCH in creating supported employment internships for young people with learning disabilities, autism spectrum conditions, or both, in their last year of education and helping them to take positive first steps into the world of employment.”

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“Here at Thorpe Park, we believe everyone deserves to belong and we are committed to building and supporting pathways to create diverse teams. With Thorpe Park being the UK’s most thrilling theme park, collaborating with DFN Project SEARCH makes for an exciting programme and a great destination to pilot this course for Merlin Entertainments.”

“As a Resort, we feel very passionate about this collaboration, and we look forward to welcoming students this autumn to play a committed and pivotal role in their further education and journey into employment.”

With the largest data set in the UK, DFN Project SEARCH’s evidence-based model challenges misconceptions and changes the way society views and enables young adults with a learning disability and/or autism to ensure that they reach their true and full potential.

You can learn more at: https://www.dfnprojectsearch.org

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