A Hornchurch youngster has spent his summer as an intern at parliament, thanks to a pioneering scheme run by a local charity.
Ben Huseyin, 20, who is autistic, spent two fortnight long spells in the Westminster office of John Howell OBE.
Ben’s internship came as a result of efforts by the Sycamore Trust UK, a local charity that helps children and young people with autism and run a programme for assisting young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) into work.
Entitled SPACE (Supporting People with Autism into Continued Employment), it prepares young adults with autism for work. Candidates are required to complete a programme of several weekly modules, each relating to a specific activity, such as preparing a CV, or presenting themselves for interview.
As part of Ben’s work experience, they secured a place with the Conservative MP for Henley.
Mr Howell explained: “Ben has seen the full range of what an MP does. He has seen me speak in debates in the main chamber and been to Prime Minister’s Questions. He’s also been to a number of select committees as well as plenty of work in the office.”
Although initially nervous, Ben has gained some wonderful experience of life in Westminster. He said: “I have really enjoyed the work here. I was a bit nervous at first because I was worried it might be a bit above me, but it wasn’t as difficult as I thought and I have been able to cope.”
Mr Howell’s office also ensured that Ben had some dealings with his constituents. He said: “Every week, we read through the local papers and write to people in the constituency who have achieved something. Ben has been doing that research and drafting those letters.”
Young people and adults with ASD have a constant battle trying to find work and at present, only 16% of autistic adults are in full time paid employment.
SPACE Project manager Nikki Murphy said: “Work experience and internships are great but these young people are capable of more. They are by nature very organised and polite and Ben is an example of that. He can travel anywhere, he is always on time and ready for work.”
John Howell MP said: “It’s been an enormous pleasure having Ben with us and I hope by having him here we’ve been able to show that it is perfectly possible to increase the number of people with ASD into employment.”