I was so excited to start Project SEARCH and learn new skills. My Dad is a doctor and I loved the idea of working in a hospital. I couldn’t wait to get started.
My first placement was with the Community Midwives Department where I worked as an Administrative Assistant. I absolutely loved this role which involved organising folders, packing up equipment, photocopying, labelling and putting maternity packs together. I really enjoyed all the tasks and the staff were so supportive and made me feel as though I was an asset to their team.
My biggest challenge was answering the phone but improving my communication skills was one of the goals I had set myself and I was determined to get better. With the advice and encouragement of my job coaches, I was able to develop my communication skills and I feel much more confident about using the phone now.
My next placement was at the back-of-house where I worked as a Picker and Packer. I had to put the fruit boxes together, deliver them to the wards and then collect the empty boxes, I also had to tick the fruit trolley diet chart. Working as a Picker and Packer encouraged me to use my initiative more as I would go to other wards to offer them help with the fruit trolley. It also gave me an opportunity to interact with patients more which was good fun and I hoped that they enjoyed talking with me.
Whilst I really wanted to go back to the Maternity Department, given the Covid restrictions, it wasn’t possible to have a customer facing role at that time. I was, however, really grateful that we were able to continue to work during Covid. I know a lot of other Project SEARCH programmes across the country were put on hold and so I am very pleased that the East London Project was able to continue. I know the experience of working through a pandemic in one of London’s busiest hospitals will be invaluable to me as I apply for jobs as it will show potential employers that I am flexible, resilient and can work in different environments.
I know that the Project SEARCH team are doing everything they can to arrange another placement for me in the Maternity Department and I hope that I will be able to return soon. But, if not, this is definitely where I would like to work in the future and when the time comes, this is the sort of job I will be looking for. Through the ASDAN training, I have a good understanding of how to write a CV and present myself at an interview. I am going to give it my best shot!
Project SEARCH has been a fantastic experience for me. I have made lots of new friends and I’ve learnt so many new skills. Whipps Cross is a fantastic place to work and I have been determined to do a good job – I’m not afraid of hard work! But my job coaches have told me not to put too much pressure on myself and have said it is ok to make mistakes. Whilst I will always do my best to get things right, this is very reassuring advice that I will take with me as I apply for jobs and enter paid employment.