Published: 06/09/2023

Local MP celebrates ‘Scotland leading’ partnership helping people with disabilities into work

Marion Fellows MP congratulated the newest recruits for an internship programme at University Hospital Wishaw last week for participating in ‘a fantastic scheme’ which has helped dozens of people with disabilities land jobs at the hospital.

The project, a partnership between NHS Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire Council, New College Lanarkshire and the charity DFN Project Search, allows students to do a series of work placements at the hospital while receiving training. Many of the students then go on to take up full-time positions in the hospital.

Marion Fellows, MP for Motherwell and Wishaw, said she was deeply impressed by the project.

“It’s been wonderful to meet with past and present students today and hear about the wonderful impact of this project. This is no box-ticking exercise, it’s helping people make truly transformational life changes.

“I’m from the area, so I know this hospital and I know you can’t swing a cat here without hitting a staff member who has come through this programme. This is a model that hospitals and other organisations across Scotland should follow, because we know that when people with disabilities are given the opportunities and support they need we all benefit. What I’ve seen today proves that.”

Amy MacDonald, just started in the project last week and is about to start her placement in the Operating Theatre.

She said: “I’m nervous, but excited! This feels like a really good opportunity to help people and make friends.”

Ben MacFarlane from Motherwell, took part in the internship scheme last year and now has a full-time job in the hospital kitchen as a catering assistant.

“This is a real-life environment The kitchens are very busy but the chefs are friendly. The people here are great, I really enjoy it.”

Ann Baxter, the Deputy Principal at New College Lanarkshire said the project was ‘essential’ to the College’s mission.

“The success of this project shows that when you give people the right tools and the correct support they can contribute hugely to the local community.

Lorraine Scott, HR Business Partner, Employability, at NHS Lanarkshire has been involved in the project from the start.

She said: “It’s been a great privilege to be involved in this, to see the people involved succeed and accomplish things they never thought would be possible. It’s a great example of partnership working From day one all the different partners have worked really well together and that’s what’s made it a success.”

Paul Kane, Business manager for employability North Lanarkshire Council, said it was a ‘nation leading project’.

He said: “It’s the first project in Scotland of its kind, and at North Lanarkshire Council we’re very proud of the fact we’ve invested in it. It’s a priority for us because we know that when people with additional support needs are given the right support we reduce the disability employment gap and help people into fair work.”

Claire Cookson, CEO, of DFN Project Search, said ‘It was wonderful to see Marion Fellows MP visit University Hospital Wishaw and give the supported internships programme the recognition it deserves’.

She went on: “The partnership between NHS Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire Council, New College Lanarkshire and DFN Project Search has been going strong for 14 years. We are very proud of the success of our programme at the hospital, helping young people with a learning disability, an autism spectrum condition or both to get great jobs that truly transform their lives.”