Work experience should be available to every teenager or young adult.

FLARE's Amba writes about her work experience and how it has given her much more than career inspiration.

Do you think that people with a wide range of support needs should have work experience? 

If not, then why not?

Work experience should be available to every teenager or young adult. It is a great way for people to develop life skills. It gives confidence and builds self-esteem. I personally have benefited from this.  

My school gave me the opportunity to undertake work experience at the beginning of year 11, which was amazing. I did my placement at a junior school for people with physical disabilities. I learnt to talk to different people and to be part of a team. 
They also gave me another opportunity in year 12 to undertake a year’s worth of work experience every Monday afternoon, which again I thoroughly enjoyed. During this placement, I was at another junior school for children with autism. I learnt how to work one-to-one with children and I also became more independent. 

As well as this, I am currently undertaking a placement at my local primary school. I am able to be hands-on with the children, which I love. They also appreciate me being around and make me feel very positive. I look forward to the placement every week. 

There is also a scheme in Newcastle called Project Choice. Project Choice offers work experience placements to young people with a wide range of disabilities in the local area, and also based in the NHS.

One of my friends is currently doing the internship year, which she loves and recommended that I should apply. I did and I am lucky enough to be on the program. At the minute, I am currently undertaking Stage 1 of Project Choice, which is the Work Experience part of it. Stage 2 is the actual internship that I will undertake in September. So far, I have completed a work experience placement of 8 weeks at a local café and now I am working in Administration in the civic centre. 
 

Through this, I have learned many skills which help me be more independent, such as walking to relevant bus stops, the exact buses to get at specific times and how to pay on the bus. I have been able to do the journey from home to work and back again independently after many weeks of somebody coming with me. 

As a result of this, I have grown my confidence and self-esteem on public transport. It has also made me fitter. It makes me believe that if I was to move out of home in the future, I could thrive without relying on my peers, teachers and parents.  I am now in a much better place, happier and more confident than I was.

When I was younger, learning to ‘fit-in’ with all of my peers was a really big deal for me. Now, through work experience I have met friends for life who accept me for who I am. I know I still have a long way to go but I am hoping to continue to develop as a person with my close support network who are there for me no matter what. In the future, I hope to have a job working with children. 

To find out more about Project Choice, visit https://www.newcastlesupportdirectory.org.uk/kb5/newcastle/fsd/service.page?id=Sy51ZvtXh1k