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Brain in Hand for supported internship programmes

For more than 45 years, Hereward College has been supporting young people with disabilities in the West Midlands to develop their skills for independence. Working closely with employers in the region, the college runs a supported internship programme: it provides students with work experience and training, bolstered by extra support from a dedicated job coach.

But once on placement, beyond the college’s reach, a change in routine or unexpected events can be extremely tough for many students with mental health conditions. Events outside of work hours, such as travelling or being unable to sleep, can cause extreme anxiety and impact the success of a placement.

The college was also keen to look for tools that would help fit the college’s goal of helping students to increase their independence skills, better preparing them for their next stage in life.

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Job coaches and students talk about their experience of using Brain in Hand.

Brain in Hand was the solution: a way to allow students to access support while out on placement, and staff to get an accurate picture of how students were coping with particular difficulties and provide support when it was most needed.

The Brain in Hand team built a system that would work for the college, helping the team identify the students who would benefit the most and linking their accounts to one central dashboard. This enabled Hereward staff to get an overview of all participants. Job coaches were given training on the system as, for the best results, they would need to support the approach, know how to set students-up on the system and be able to access the insight data available.

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Each job coach then worked closely with students to think about their life and upcoming work placement and identify the situations which cause problems or anxiety. Together, they created a range of solutions to address these and entered them into each student's individual Brain in Hand system. This enabled students to easily and quickly access these at college, home, or when on their placement.

With permission, each job coach and a family member was linked to the relevant student’s Brain in Hand account. This gave the supporters visibility of how the student was feeling at all times, enabling them to add words of encouragement and receive alerts if the student needed extra help when on a placement.

Employers welcomed this additional support tool, reassured that students could access the most appropriate support when on placement.