The chief executive of Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust writes for Globe.
SIXTEEN local, wonderful and aspirational young people have completed our inaugural Prince's Trust 'Get into Admin and Health Services' programme.
It gave me great pleasure to welcome the Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside, Mr Mark Blundell, to St Catherine's Heath Centre a couple of weeks ago to celebrate their remarkable achievements.
We are incredibly proud to be the first NHS trust in Cheshire, Wirral and Merseyside to run this fantastic initiative, in partnership with The Prince's Trust.
The scheme enables young adults to understand the breadth of roles in the NHS, the career opportunities available and the difference we make to the lives of the people we care for.
The young people enrol onto a ten-week programme, which is a mix of engagement sessions, run by The Prince's Trust, followed by a four-week work placement here at Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust.
During their placements with us, they worked across clinical and corporate services including the Wheelchair Service, 0-19 Health and Wellbeing Service, Community Cardiology, Procurement, Human Resources and the Walk-in Centres.
The placements helped them to develop new skills, grow in confidence, experience the exceptional care we provide in the local communities we serve, and to gain experience of administrative services and working in teams.
They also received training in employability skills, basic life support, safeguarding and interview skills.
We marked the end of the programme with a celebratory event, in which the young people all came together to share their experiences and receive certificates, presented by the Lord Lieutenant.
To say I was blown away by the positive impact four weeks with us had on them is an understatement.
Family and friends, staff, mentors and our therapy dog Spartacus joined the celebrations.
There wasn't a dry eye in the room as we listened to the journeys that these young people had been on.
It was so wonderful to hear about how much they had enjoyed being here. One of the participants, Abdirahman Farah, said: "Before getting onto the programme I had completed a bachelor's degree in business studies, from Liverpool John Moores University.
"I had applied for over 100 jobs in the past twelve months, been contacted by about a dozen of them, interviewed for five and until last week I was still unemployed.
"My biggest obstacle was lack of experience, so this programme was a great opportunity and gave me the confidence and experience I needed to successfully secure a HR job with North West Ambulance Service.
"The staff at the Trust have been so helpful and supportive, taking time to thoroughly explain things to me, and ensuring I was actively participating, which has pushed me to try and excel and meet the high standards that the teams have."
The programme has been a big success; we are already looking forward to working with The Prince's Trust to welcome our next cohort of local young people in 2020 and we’re hoping to inspire more trusts to get involved.