Supported Internships opening doors to employment for young people with SEND

with Lucie Chiocchetti, Communications Officer, Internships Work, NDTi.

We’ve run a few stories on supported internships in the past, but they are still very under-used across England for young people with disabilities, despite them offering a great opportunity to get real work experience, while still having an EHCP. The government is also looking into expanding them in their Improvement Plan so young people with SEND without an EHC plan can also access a supported internship, although there are many questions here about rights to support.

The National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) along with DFN Project SEARCH and The British Association for Support Employment (BASE) are at the forefront of this work with the Internships Work consortium, and today, Lucie Chiocchetti from NDTi introduces us to several young people who they’ve helped into internships. Read on for inspiration of how it could work for your young person in your area.

Supported Internships helping young people with SEND get ready for work by Lucie Chiocchetti

For a lot of young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), finding a job is really hard and often, impossible without significant support. Supported internships can make a real difference for those who wish to start working, not only helping young people with SEND find jobs, but also teaching them important life lessons through real-life experiences.

Here are the thoughts of college students with SEND who are starting their supported internships this September.

What Are Supported Internships?

Supported internships offer a unique opportunity for young people with SEND to learn by doing. It’s a way to try out real jobs and build their skills and confidence. These programmes include completely personalised support and help them get ready for their future careers. In fact, about 70% of people who do Supported Internships end up with jobs they enjoy, just like Ellie.

Ellie's Journey: From Intern to Valuable Team Member

Ellie is doing really well as a midday assistant at a local school. Her journey from being a supported intern to becoming an important part of the team is a great example of how supported internships can transform someone’s life. Jessica, a teacher at Princes Primary School (Liverpool), highlighted how the internships provided Ellie with more than a job, and to fully take part in the school and wider community: “Ellie has not only formed strong connections with students but also with staff, actively participating in the different activities of the school like assembly. I think it’s so important that we provide many and more opportunities for adults with learning disabilities to enhance their skills and knowledge, so that they can then experience the world of work.

Supported interns can really bring a lot of value to the workplace, Jessica says, “Many people with SEND are so experienced and have valuable life experiences that can help us as well. I've learnt so much from Ellie myself. It has been valuable to work alongside the supported internship programme. She’s helped me grow as much as I’ve helped her.”

Ellie is thrilled with what her Supported Internship experience has brought her. “I would definitely recommend supported internships to any other young person with SEND. It will help you overcome loads, get a job and be the best you can be.”

Ellie at work
Ellie enjoying her role
Ellie doing a terrific job!

Your Journey Starts Here

While starting a supported internship can be exciting, it's normal to have apprehensions about signing up for one. We spoke with two young individuals, Roman and Azeem, both from Newham, who are getting ready to start their internships this September.

Ruman: A Step Towards Independence

"I thought a supported internship could be my chance to start working," says Ruman, who is 19. "Independence is important to me, I think it's necessary for the future."

At first, Ruman had some worries, but he found the process of signing up to be easy and straightforward. He's excited about his internship at the hospital, where he wants to help patients, use computers, and get better at talking to people. He knows he might make some mistakes at first, but he's confident he'll learn and do well in the hospital and can’t wait to try different jobs during his internship.

Azeem: Learning to Solve Problems

Azeem, aged 20, learned about supported internships while improving his IT grades. He was curious at first and wanted to see what it was all about.

"I wasn't worried about it simply because I didn’t know anything about it," Azeem says. After hearing about other people's good experiences, he decided to give it a try. During his internship, Azeem wants to learn how to solve problems, to help him in future jobs. Even though he's a bit nervous about being in a new place, Azeem knows he has his Job Coach to support him, and he's eager to get started.

Internships Work: Your Guide to Success

Internships Work is a special programme that's here to help more young people with learning disabilities/autism and an EHCP to do supported internships. Our goal is to provide clear information and support to young people, families, schools, employers, colleges, and job coaches. We think that with the right support, anyone who wants to work can work. That’s why this programme was created to make sure everyone gets the right help.

Take Action and Make an Impact

The recent National Inclusion Week led us to call on young people and their families to "Take Action and Make an Impact." We invite young people and their families to explore supported internships for themselves. Get in touch with your local authority or college to start your journey towards success. You can find lots of information and resources on supported internships on the Internships Work website.

Supported internships can open doors to great jobs and help and empower young people with SEND reach their full potential, for future filled with possibilities. Don't wait – your journey begins today! For more information visit this page on their website or email

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