NTW Solutions scores award win for its work supporting people into employment

Award success has come for NTW Solutions in recognition of its work to support young people with learning difficulties and disabilities into employment. The award, which went to the Materials Management Team recognised their work supporting Project Choice.



This pioneering NHS Health England initiative offers tailored educational support, and a supported internship course for young adults aged 16-24 with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, and/or Autism. Over the past five years the team has supported eight students as part of their internship scheme.


The team, led by Mark Straker and supported by Sam Parker and Lauren Reader have been mentors to an annual intake of students. They have established an internship programme that ensures Project Choice students undertake a 3–9-month placement within a busy materials management and wider procurement team.



The team work with the Project Choice leads to develop a training plan designed to develop the skills of the students to learn the essential elements of the materials management role. The programme ensures the students learn the purpose of the service, shadow the existing staff, and eventually build up to being given the autonomy to undertake independent working within the department.



The placement is incredibly important in building the confidence of the students. For many, it is their first taste of the work environment, and the process has been extremely successful in providing a platform for the students to learn the basics of employment such as adhering to strict start and finish times, communicating with colleagues, the importance of accurate information, working to deadlines, solving problems etc. 



The students learn about the different elements of the procurement function, learning the end-to-end materials management systems and processes in great detail. In addition to this they spend some time with the wider procurement team, learning the Oracle system, customer queries goods receipting and supplier management elements.



The project has been a real success with 100% of the students going on to successfully graduate from the programme. Five of the students have successfully found paid employment following the scheme. The award judging panel were so impressed with the work undertaken that they requested the team deliver a ‘showcase’ presentation to the award ceremony attendees with other organisations since expressing an interest in taking part.

To everyone involved in this brilliant work you should be immensely proud of yourselves. You are making a real positive difference to people’s lives and I’m really grateful.

Mark Straker, Sam Parker and Lauren Reader have been fantastic mentors to our students over the past 5 years and have provided them with unwavering support in understanding the role they do and the operations of the team. Each year they personally take it upon themselves to fully immerse themselves in not only completing their greatly important roles in NTW Solutions, but also to provide first class support to the young people in North Tyneside with additional needs