River City stars put students centre stage

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THE stars of River City helped launch an initiative which provides training and education for Cumbernauld students with learning difficulties to help them find employment.

Project Search was launched in Monklands Hospital, Airdrie by soap actors Gary Sweeney and Paul-James Corrigan, who play Gabriel Brodie and Stevie Burns in River City.

The initiative has been set up in the hospital following an award winning trial run at Wishaw General which allowed eight students to go on to secure employment.

Project Search is a one-year training course and the programme gives students the opportunity to experience what it’s like being at work, teaches them new skills and helps them understand the demands of the working world.

Students work five-days-a-week at the employer’s premises, combining practical learning with classroom sessions.

The Cumbernauld students taking part in the initiative include Lauren McDonald, Suzy McLelland, Clare Canning and Louise Mackie.

Louise said: “Before I joined Project Search I lacked confidence in myself. However, the skills and work experience I am gaining through my work placements has increased my chances of getting a job. I have also made lots of friends too which has been great.

“The visit from the River City stars has been one of my highlights so far. It was brilliant because I got a chance to ask Gary and PJ questions about their previous jobs before joining the soap. They were honest and encouraged me to work hard to achieve my dream job in the future.”

The successful partnership project involves NHS Lanarkshire, North Lanarkshire Council, SERCO and Motherwell College.

Lorraine Scott, who oversees Project Search on behalf of NHS Lanarkshire, said: “It was tremendous of both actors to take the time to come and speak to the students. The students really appreciated their time and were keen to ask them questions about their own working life.

“I would like to thank all the partners who have been integral to Project Search’s success including SERCO at Wishaw General, hotel services at Monklands and the managers behind the mentoring programme.”