Supported internships as a vehicle for broadening and deepening the social inclusion of people with learning disabilities
AffiliationUniversity of Derby
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AbstractObtaining employment for young people with learning disabilities remains challenging and they may not be able to experience work that offers them the opportunity for broader and deeper social inclusion. Supported internships (SIs) offer a possible solution to this problem, providing a bespoke, structured study programme designed for students with disabilities. This paper explores, through an ecological systems approach, the experiences of three graduates, six interns, two job coaches and three colleagues, from a long running SI in a large private sector organisation that delivers utilities in the midlands. The organisation has many different departments and interns work in several of these, including the mailroom, reprographics, catering, health and safety, reception, and customer services. The researchers conducted small focus groups and interviews with the participants described above. Thematic analysis identified three core phenomena of relevance to understanding the relationship between the SI programme and interns’ experience of deepened and broadened social inclusion. The first theme illustrated positive changes to interns’ and graduates’ self-concept (e.g., self-determination) and participation, the second captured accounts of reciprocity in relationships, and the third contained insights into the SI practices that were relevant to improved social inclusion. The SI did lead to the broadening and deepening of social inclusion for interns and graduates. The person-centred ethos of the SI, personalised approaches to workplace adaption, and feedback policies were practices that began to emerge as implicated in this impact. Positive developments to self-concept emerged as important in building interns’ and graduates’ capacities for participation. The study also demonstrated that an ecological systems approach is useful as a basis for conceptualising and investigating changes to the amount and quality of social inclusion, as experienced by people with learning disabilities.
CitationHanson, J., Robinson, D., and Codina, G. (2021). 'Supported internships as a vehicle for broadening and deepening the social inclusion of people with learning disabilities'. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, pp. 1-36.
JournalBritish Journal of Learning Disabilities