Project SEARCH

Growing up, my dream was always to be a train driver.  However, when the time came to start thinking about what I would do when I left school, I didn’t think this was realistic for me so my Mum suggested I applied to Project SEARCH.  The Project looked good and I thought it would give me some useful skills and might even be a stepping stone to becoming a train driver in the future.

So far, I have completed one placement in Mechanical Maintenance at Whipps Cross Hospital, where I worked with lots of different people in a big team.  During this placement, I had so much practical, hands-on experience and learnt how to do a range of tasks. These included key and pipe cutting as well as assembling small heaters and soldering metal pipes together.

What was so great about working in Maintenance was that I felt as though I was building on the skills I had learnt at school as well as gaining new ones.  For example, in Year 7 Design and Technology (DT), I learnt how to solder during the process of making a boom box, and now I am using the same skill but in a different context.  It’s brilliant to be able to put the skills I gained at school to good use in my work placement and to see how important they are.

I’ve had to learn my way around the hospital really quickly and it has been exciting to get to go to all the underground areas which most people never see.

When it came to choosing my second placement, the Project SEARCH team knew I wanted to build on the maintenance skills I had already learnt.  They have therefore arranged for me to join the Site Services Team at Whitefield School which is also part of Whitefield Academy Trust.  I am so grateful that the team have been able to look beyond the hospital for a suitable placement for me and I can’t wait to get started.

I recently went to visit the school to meet with Pete, the Head of Site Services and the rest of the team.  They told me that I will be helping set up the new boilers and doing lots of different types of maintenance work.  Although I won’t be in Whipps Cross Hospital every day, I know there will be lots of opportunities to meet up with the other interns and feel part of the team.

However, I still have my heart set on becoming a train driver and so I have been volunteering at Epping Ongar Railway.  During my last Employment Planning Meeting, Janet, the Project SEARCH Manager told me how one of the graduates from last year has recently been offered a place on a bus driver training scheme.  Like me, he had his heart set on a particular job and it is fantastic to hear that he is going to get to do it.  His story has really inspired me and shown me that my dream is still possible – particularly now I have learnt all these skills through Project SEARCH.

Daniel photo