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Posted on 27 October 2020

Project Search in the words of an intern

This month in America is National Disability Employment Awareness Month and depsite being on this side of the Atlantic we wanted to celebrate and promote the key messages of the month.

Which is why we caught up with Josh, who worked within Calico as part of DFN’s Project Search which was created to support and help young people with autism and learning disabilities into the world of work.

You can find details of DFN Project Search and other employability projects within The Calico Group here. This is what Josh had to say…

Hi, I am Joshua Ellis, and this is my story about my Project Search journey.

When I was told about Project Search, I thought it might be something like my part time job.  I was a pot washer and it had not been a good experience and thought the work placements might be something like that that. I have additional learning needs that means sometimes I forget things easily and on certain occasions I need tasks or information to be explained in a different way.

I had been at Burnley College for two years and felt that I wanted to gain proper full-time employment. I was told that I had great people skills and a willingness to want to learn and that I had already worked, I would be perfect for this. When I had a chat with the Project Search team at Burnley College, they told me that these skills could be developed and put to good use in a job.

So I thought I would say yes to Project Search because when I knew it was Calico I thought it would be great to work in such a big business and that I felt like I could do it.

The good thing about Project Search in Calico is that there is loads of support for you to develop and learn new skills.  I had an hour in the mornings with my Tutor Matt and Job Coach Christine who would help and guide me to understand working as an employee rather than a student.  I also felt that I was treated as an employee in work experience not a student in work experience. My managers, Christine and Matt also help me to get to grips with my job roles.

That staff at Calico have been brilliant.  They acknowledge my disability but know that this does not define me.  I now know that I am a person with a disability who has been able to gain employment as they treated me as one of the team within my different job roles and developed and helped me to succeed every day.

As I have gained work experience over time, my CV has built and has never looked so good.  Christine has laid it out in such a professional way that when I apply for jobs, I get lots of replies.

When we had to go home due COVID-19 I had applied for some work with my Job Coach and I got a job at Burnley General Hospital doing cleaning on weekends that lasted for 2 months then, unfortunately, the contract stopped that was a big shame but I got good feedback from my manager, so that’s always a good thing so l was happy with that.

Since then the agency were so happy with my work, they found me other work cleaning in a primary school and a bank. The Project Search team, Christine Matt and Rachel were supporting me at work by way of zoom meetings, telephone, text, or email because they could come in to do the in-work support as they would have normally. They would speak to the managers and offer support in other ways.


Before I got my job, I was having zoom meetings every day at 10am with the other interns and Matt and Christine having chats about how we are all doing just keeping each other happy in this bad time so that s awesome and we have been doing some work from our tutor Matt and Christine my job coach to keep us busy too.

I feel that I have a good future ahead of me and the Project Search has been brilliant in helping me get this far.  I am now more able to handle different work environments in the cleaning industry and am now looking for permanent work.

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