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Daniel Bonnage

This summer saw recent Student of the Term winner, Daniel Bonnage, reach the end of his time with Project SEARCH. 

Project SEARCH is an internship programme that supports young adults with learning disabilities to gain mainstream paid employment. Based at Derriford Hospital, Daniel really enjoyed the opportunity to explore what he was capable of. A former pupil at Mill Ford School, Daniel has never been shy about his autism and hopes to encourage other young people with autism to achieve their dreams. 

Daniel first came to the College for a visit with his school, where he got to see for himself the College’s Skills Development department. Daniel was impressed by the visit and decided to sign up for a Skills Development course, completing work experience with the local council and also achieving an Entry Level 3 Diploma in Employability Skills. Daniel was then encouraged to join Project SEARCH, giving him the opportunity to develop his employability skills further by taking on three internships within Derriford Hospital.

Daniel said: “I was a bit unsure about Project SEARCH to begin with and I needed some encouragement to consider doing the internships, but I am now really pleased that I did it.”

Daniel’s condition causes him to experience extreme levels of anxiety and confusion, however, this was something that he felt the Project SEARCH staff helped him learn to manage. Daniel said: “Being at the College has really helped me to feel more comfortable around new people. I was also very lucky with my internships. I really enjoyed working as the concierge for Plymouth City Council at Windsor House and it has helped with my understanding of social cues. I also really enjoyed working as a post room operative at Derriford Hospital. Everyone there was so friendly and they knew how to support me with things like giving instructions.” 

Daniel also made some great progress working within the Hospital Pharmacy Department and was described by his supervisor as being ‘a valued member of the team’.

During his time at Derriford, Daniel became the fastest intern in the project’s ten-year history to memorise the Hospital’s postal round, and his friendly and can-do attitude has won him many friends at both the College and in his internships. Daniel also successfully completed a Level 1 Diploma in Employability Skills, alongside his placements.

Daniel added: “If anyone else is considering Project SEARCH, I would recommend it. It can be challenging at the start, but it is really rewarding and it has helped me in many ways.”

Daniel is now hoping to find some additional voluntary work experience to help him to continue to develop his transferable skills.

His former tutor for Project SEARCH, Dan Payne, said: “We are very proud of Daniel. Even when things were really hard for him personally, he showed such great commitment and his can-do attitude helped him throughout. It was a pleasure to see Daniel develop in his resilience and professionalism during the programme and we wish him every success for the future.”