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National Supported Internship Day 2024: Let’s dough it!

March 26, 2024 Posted in: News

It’s National Supported Internship Day 2024 and we’re celebrating how supported internships can transform the lives of our candidates and employers. These mutually-beneficial work placements offer the opportunity to build a sense of community and create a brighter future for all. This year, to mark this important date, we spoke with Theo and his manager at Pizza Pilgrims in Brighton…

What’s a supported internship?

At Team Domenica, we help young people with learning disabilities acquire the skills and independence needed to access meaningful employment and thrive in life. We achieve this through bespoke training programmes and by partnering with local businesses to provide accessible work experience. A supported internship is just one example of these placements.

As part of our Supported Internship Programme, a candidate will hone their skills in a single workplace. Every placement is chosen based on our candidates’ interests, talents and ambitions, as well as the requirements for each employer. Upon starting their placement, our interns are supported by an experienced Job Coach who works on-site to ensure shared success. This training is then bolstered through education in our classroom and cafés.

The ultimate goal of this programme is for our young people to learn new skills and hopefully gain paid work. An impressive 81% of our candidates find paid work through this programme.

Theo’s workplace journey

Before starting his internship, Theo first completed our Supported Employment Programme. During this time, he built on his skills and experience, whilst we learnt about his passions and abilities. Our employment team then used this knowledge to match Theo with his ideal job, at his ideal workplace: Pizza Pilgrims.

To ensure that this role was the perfect fit, Theo and his Team Domenica mentor visited the restaurant before his first shift. This gave Theo and his manager, Sam, the opportunity to discover how they could help each other thrive. They discussed Theo’s new responsibilities, his needs, and how they could create success, together. After a great first meeting, it wasn’t long until Theo’s internship officially started!

Two photos of Theo hard at work at Pizza Pilgrims Brighton. Taken for National Supported Internship Day 2024.

In his role, Theo completes a wide variety of tasks, from working on the bar or till, to greeting customers and cleaning tables. He’s even had a go at making pizzas and devised his own shorthand for taking customer orders! When asked about his supported internship, he said:

I’m loving my placement at Pizza Pilgrims. [On my first day] I was nervous about coming into a new place and learning new things. But now I feel comfortable and great! My favourite job is working on the bar and making drinks. The people I work with are really nice and if I ever feel unsure Lucy [my Job Coach] is there to help me feel confident.

Putting the ‘support’ in supported internships

Lucy, a Team Domenica Job Coach, has been working with Theo and Sam to facilitate their journey. She acts as a go-between and guides the whole process, helping create a collaborative and supportive environment where everyone works together to overcome any hurdles and celebrate success. Practically, this means that Lucy supports Theo with his skills development whilst also offering advice to his colleagues. She also feeds information back to his teacher and mentor, Liam, who works with Theo in the classroom.

Two photos taken for National Supported Internship Day 2024 - on the left is Theo and his manager Sam and on the right is Theo hard at work at Pizza Pilgrims Brighton.

In the past, Theo found serving large tables of customers daunting. It felt intimidating to talk to so many people, and there were lots of orders to remember. Lucy therefore passed this information to Liam, who recreated the restaurant in his classroom (complete with Italian music)! This meant that Theo could practice his skills in a familiar environment and, in doing so, his confidence grew enormously. Lucy says:

Theo has been a pleasure to work with this year; he’s a lovely young man, with a great work ethic. He’s not scared of pushing himself outside of his comfort zone, and his dedication is really paying off. His progress has enabled me to start fading out my support so he can build his independence further. I’m excited to see Theo continue to grow in his supported internship.

It’s a ‘pizza’ magic!

Theo isn’t the only one to have completed a supported internship at Pizza Pilgrims. Last year, Team Domenica candidate Sam also finished a successful placement and started paid work in the restaurant! He’s now a key member of this welcoming team and has attended multiple socials and events. You can read more about Sam’s story here.

When they work together, Sam acts as a role model to Theo. He shows him the ropes and offers sound advice. With slick service and delicious drinks, this dynamic duo have become quite the double act. In fact, Pizza Pilgrims have been so impressed with the pair that they’ve started hosting work experience placements for the young people on our Supported Employment Programme. Here are some photos of Sam, Theo and first-year candidate Mo, in action…

Two photos for National Supported Internship Day 2024. On the left are Sam and Theo working in Pizza Pilgrims and on the Right is Mo during his placement.

These examples demonstrate Pizza’s Pilgrims commitment to inclusion and diversity in the workplace. They are dedicated to creating a brighter future for people with learning disabilities and see the tangible benefits they bring. In fact, 100% of our partners say that working with our young people has benefitted their business.

Pizza Pilgrims are quickly becoming  one of our biggest advocates. The staff have taken the time to learn about our candidates and how they would like to be trained. And, after our team presented at their area meeting in London, the restaurant chain is also hoping to work with programmes like ours across the country.

National Supported Internship Day 2024

Our partnership with Pizza Pilgrims encapsulates everything behind National Supported Internship Day 2024. With their help, our candidates are finding their confidence and realising their potential. Importantly, our young people are also making a difference to the lives of those they work with. When asked about his experience as a manager, Sam explained:

Working with the candidates has been really rewarding. They’ve added so much to our team, and it’s been great seeing them grow. Before working with the guys, we worried we might get things wrong, but there’s nothing Team Domenica won’t do. Their support and communication has been fantastic and any doubts disappeared as soon as I met the interns.

If you’re a company thinking of reducing the recruitment gap – and hiring people with learning disabilities – all I can say is do it. It’ll be one of the best things you’ll ever do.

Thank you to Pizza Pilgrims, and all our fantastic employer partners. Every placement helps create futures for young people with learning disabilities. We couldn’t do it without you.

What can you do?

If you’re interested in working with us, and want to discover the benefits of working with people with learning disabilities, head to our employer partnerships page or get in touch with the team at supported-employment@teamdomenica.com.

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