AIREDALE NHS Foundation Trust is celebrating the success of its internship programme for students with learning disabilities.

Trust bosses have showcased the scheme as part of Learning Disability Week.

Internships, for young people aged 16 to 24, last between six months and a year.

And students spend up to two days a week in the workplace.

Amongst those participating in the initiative is 21-year-old Fifi Fawcett, from Cullingworth.

The Keighley College student works in the Friendly Coffee Shop at Airedale Hospital.

She is supported by her college job coach, Trina Smith, who says the programme benefits both students and employers.

"Fifi is much more confident to speak to new people now and the internship is helping her gain fantastic workplace skills," says Trina. "She will now have work references too.

"For the employer, the scheme is great for diversifying the workforce and offering opportunities to people with learning difficulties. The students have many skills to offer and there are countless things they can do. We often look at what they can’t do, when there are so many things they can do.

"Also, it's often easy for employers to make any small adjustments necessary so that roles are accessible. It doesn’t mean spending a lot of money, it can be something really simple. Fifi has a stylus pen so she can use the till and a chair so she can sit down, as she gets tired quickly. It’s just small adjustments so everyone can access the workplace.

"The employer gets the support of a job coach too."

Fifi says she would encourage anyone to try the programme, adding: "I’d say just go for it. I really enjoy it."

Izzy Allsopp, mobility services manager and internship lead at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, says the scheme provides an "invaluable opportunity" to students and that the young people are a pleasure to have.

She adds: "When our interns first come we ask about their aspirations, career goals and hobbies, and then try to match their workplace experience around that.

"This scheme gives an invaluable opportunity for young people to learn workability skills and to develop, and we get a huge sense of pride in watching them grow in ability and confidence. The interns are a pleasure to have as part of our teams – their commitment, energy and enthusiasm is fantastic."

For more about the programme, contact Emma Rich on 01535 685095 or