Please support your local NHS Charity, caring for your community

College students supported by the NHS proudly graduate despite the pandemic

Photo: Aidan McMahon with his Aspire certificate of acheivement

Published: 15 July 2020

Students who learned about the world of work at Torbay Hospital have graduated, despite missing out on their ceremony due to the pandemic.

Those graduating, from South Devon College, proudly show off their newly received certificates after completing an award in Employability skills as part of the Aspire Supported Internship Programme. The course includes working at the hospital, which is run by Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.

Owing to COVID-19, the students had to finish their course early and sadly couldn’t mark their achievement with the traditional graduation ceremony at the hospital.

However, their proud college tutor Julie Hughes said: “Congratulations to this year’s Aspire students, they have enjoyed working in various placements, and learning new skills. They have also completed an Award in Employability skills and we wish them every success in the future.”

The course is open to 18 to 24 year-olds who are supported by specialist staff at the hospital to help them learn and develop key employment skills by gaining experience with one of the area’s bigger employers.

The Aspire project builds confidence, communication skills and supports the learner with work-based skills that can last a lifetime. Aspire students often go on to secure permanent jobs in with the Trust and in the wider community.

Skills gained include catering and administration experienced in the following areas: Hospital portering, the children’s ward, restaurant and café, waste management, IT, and domestic services.

Suzanne Hubbard, Trust Apprenticeships and Widening Participation Manager said: “We are absolutely delighted to hear that all of the Aspire students successfully graduated this year, huge congratulations to them all.

“We wish all of them every success in the future. We’ll continue to work with our local community, supporting young people with their development and aspirations. Our best wishes to all of the Aspire students of 2020.”

The students who graduated are Sophie Williams, Ffion Shore, Ella Constantine, Sophie Sproston, Robyn Coverdale, Matthew Harris, and Aidan McMahon.

Sophie Sproston, said: “Working with the catering team has really built up my confidence and I felt valued.”

Sophie Williams said: “I really enjoyed my placement with the porters, they were friendly and helpful.”

Robyn’s father, Simon said: “I do hope Aspire comes back. Even though Robyn didn’t manage the whole year, I think it has been critical in getting her to her current level of confidence and motivation. It is a fantastic scheme for students at a particular stage in their development. It really is a credit to all who are involved.”