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WLC Hosts West London Supported Internship Fair

Almost 300 people attended the West London Supported Internships Recruitment Fair hosted at Hammersmith & Fulham College this week, as part of our Colleges Week celebrations. Now in its eighth fantastic year, the fair, organised by West London Alliance in partnership with West London College, welcomed aspiring interns to the morning session and afternoon sessions. Visitors heard from a series of inspirational former interns and employers, who spoke at the event – and were able to talk to them directly in more personalised conversations too. Around 16 major employers were at the event, and attendees were able to apply directly for supported internships on the day.

Supported Internships are work experience programmes for young people aged 18-24 with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). Typically, classes of around 10 to 15 run from September to July during which time learners try three different job rotations with their employers.

Four days a week are dedicated to work experience, and one day a week is spent in class improving English, maths, IT, and employability skills. Many young people who came to the fair were with their schools and colleges or parents and carers, although young people are welcome to book their place or drop in on the day. Over 60% of young people graduating from a WLA-supported internship programme (for young people with special educational needs) entered employment (compared to the average rate of 5.6% for this cohort nationally). Around 42% of supported internships in London are based within the West London Alliance boroughs. In 2024, around 180 young people are on supported internship placements in West London.

Charles Nelson, Assistant Principal at West London College said: “This event has grown from strength to strength and supported internships in West London are highly successful in giving young people with SEND the skills and confidence they need for employment and independence.”

Event organiser Bhavna Bilimoria from West London Alliance said: “The importance of the supported internships is that young people with learning disabilities are gaining excellent work experience with outstanding employers while being carefully supported in their job roles and in classroom learning to ensure they succeed.“

Matilda
Oliver at the Supported Internship Fair
Oliver
Thanujan at the Supported Internship Fair
Thanujan
Will at the Supported Internship Fair
Will
Troy at the Supported Internship Fair
Troy

Matilda, Oliver, Thanujan, Will and Troy are all current or former supported interns who spoke at the event. Matilda was a supported intern last year and is now working full time at Monkey Puzzle, a day nursery in Ealing, which she loves. Matilda said: “I am now earning my own money and I can save to buy the things I want.”

Oliver works as a supported intern at Northwick Park Hospital. He’s now on his third rotation in the hospital’s central stores. Oliver says: “My manager and mentor told me job roles are coming up and he asked me to apply for them.”

An SI graduate, Thanujan works as a Central Middlesex Park Royal Hospital Radiologist porter. Thanujan said: “I pushed through barriers to get where I am today” and advised fellow supported interns to strive for what they want to achieve too – “go for what you want, the sky’s the limit!”

Will was a supported intern a few years ago. Will says his “passion and love for working at Nando’s”, which was one of his former rotations, was soon spotted by his employer, and he was quickly offered a paid job there. Currently, Will also works as a Learning Support Apprentice at West London College. Will says: “Once I complete my apprenticeship, I would like to work in a primary school.”

Troy described his initial trepidation, which turned instantly into excitement for his supported internship programme once he started. Troy learned a lot from the rotations, which included a media role with the WLC Marketing team, and he is now working with Hammersmith and Fulham Council, also in a media production role on making a Youth Voice video. For the future, Troy says: “I’d like to become a media production apprentice and ultimately work in the music industry.”

Nikki Bagnall, HR Manager from Delta Hotels by Marriott Heathrow Windsor, said: “Working with supported interns has been transformative for our business. It has enabled us to understand more about learning disabilities as a team, it has ensured we streamline our working practice which was beneficial for all our staff, and we can see from our employee engagement survey that since we started working with supported interns our staff feel we work more collaboratively with one another overall.”

Steve Comber Head of SEN at RB Kensington and Chelsea and Camila Mujica Braesyde from Charing Cross Hospital, also spoke at the event.

The employers and organisations attending the Supported Internships Recruitment Fair were:

  1. University of West London
  2. West London NHS Trust (Royal Free, Guys and St Thomas, Royal National Orthopaedic)
  3. Goldman Sachs
  4. Brent Civic Centre
  5. Wembley Park
  6. Harrow Retail Outlets
  7. TFL Partnered with Shaw Trust
  8. London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust – Northwick Park Hospital
  9. The Hammersmith SI (Partnered with 245)
  10. Chelsea & Westminster & West Middx University Hospital
  11. Westminster City Council
  12. Windsor Marriott Hotel
  13. Charing Cross Hospital
  14. Ealing Job Centre
  15. Hounslow Council
  16. Thorpe Park
  17. Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea – Morley College
  18. Royal Mencap Society
Nikki at the Supported Internship Fair
Nikki Bagnall, Delta Hotels
Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs
Hounslow Council
Hounslow Council
Northwick Park
Northwick Park Hospital
WLC Staff and Students
WLC Staff and Students

There are over 42 supported internship programmes on offer throughout West London and four of these are based at West London College working with councils including Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Slough.

The West London Local Authorities that offer supported internship programmes are Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Westminster, Ealing, Hounslow, Brent, Harrow, Hillingdon, Slough, and Barnet.

WLC gratefully acknowledges the enormous amount of groundbreaking work carried out by DFN PROJECT Search, Action on Disability, Ealing Mencap, Shaw Trust, Project Choice and Royal Mencap Society across London in setting up supported internships.

HAMMERSMITH & FULHAM
COLLEGE
HAMMERSMITH & FULHAM COLLEGE
HAMMERSMITH & FULHAM COLLEGE
Gliddon Road
Barons Court
London W14 9BL

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EALING GREEN COLLEGE
EALING GREEN COLLEGE
EALING GREEN COLLEGE
The Green
Ealing
London W5 5EW

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SOUTHALL COMMUNITY
COLLEGE
SOUTHALL COMMUNITY COLLEGE
SOUTHALL COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Beaconsfield Road
Southall
London UB1 1DP

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