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Alumnus turns public speaker at special needs educational event

A supported internship alumnus of Eastleigh College has delivered a stirring speech at a SEND event to champion workplace diversity.

Joseph Peccerrella was warmly welcomed to the event in Winchester, where he shared his story to an attentive audience, as well as reflecting on lessons learned across his educational journey and workplace experience. The event was a celebration of the benefits employing young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can bring to the workplace and a range of employers were on hand to discuss how employing young people with SEND have enhanced their businesses.

Joseph’s Eastleigh College journey began in 2016 with a Skills for Independence and Work course, followed by an Exploring Enterprise course and eventually a Supported Internship programme in 2020. Through this programme, Joseph has had the opportunity to dip his toe into a range of dynamic work placements including at Royal Victoria Country Park, YMCA Stoneham Café and most recently DoubleTree Hilton in Southampton, where he is responsible for front of house and waitering.

Derren Storey, YMCA Eastleigh Community Manager, said: “Joseph has really settled into his role here at YMCA. There is little we have to show him now and he can pretty much perform any task. The only time we need to intervene is when there is a stressful order or a big queue which can sometimes throw him. Joseph is a real asset to us here and I am sure he will get a decent amount of hours.”

Lorna Cantwell, Joseph’s Job Coach at Eastleigh College, said: “Joseph has always demonstrated resilience and hard work and his inspiring speech will hopefully strike a chord with the local community. All of the Supported Internship team are so proud of him and we wish him continued success in the future.”

Joseph Peccerella said: “It has not always been easy for me, but I have learnt so many new skills over the past year and am able to cope in the workplace like everybody else, thanks to the Supported Internship course. The members of staff have been fantastic and helped me so much. I still have lots of dreams and hopes for the future but I know that I am well on my way now and have the tools I need.”

For more information on our Supported Internship course, please click here.

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