A Pop Up shop, created and run by Supported Internship students at Quarles campus, was declared officially open in a ribbon-cutting ceremony by Principal Paul Wakeling.
Paul, along with help from student Gina Crudgington, cut the ribbon before members of the public and local employers were able to browse the displays and buy the goods on offer.
The shop sells donated items such as clothes, shoes, baby care, games, DVDs, jewellery and bags – and has been set up by the Internship students in Foundation Skills with the support of a job coach.
Programme Manager Sylvie Smith said: “The shop is something different and is giving our students, who all have a Special Educational Need or Disability, the chance to gain employability skills through work such as sorting through donations, categorising items, setting them up on shelves and taking money from buyers. It is rewarding for them and also teaches them at the same time.”
The Internship course develops young people who are not quite ready for full-time work, by setting up paid work experience and other opportunities with employers. Those in industry who have supported the scheme include Avelon, Queen’s Hospital, West Ham United FC, the Co-Op, B&M, and the Brentwood Centre.
Student Abhimanyu Gupta, a former pupil at Hall Mead School, who is now 23, said the course had helped him gain confidence.
He said: “When I finish I hope that I’m able to get a paid job. I have really enjoyed the work experience I have had at the Co-op where I was dealing with stock and deliveries and at the Brentwood Centre where I was meeting and greeting visitors to events and checking tickets.”
The shop has been set up in the space of the former Jubilee Restaurant.
Before cutting the ribbon and also a celebratory ‘Open For Business’ cake, Paul said: “As well as being rooted in the community where people can contribute and also come in and buy items, the shop will teach our students about managing a business and develop their life skills so that they are ready for paid work when they leave us. We have fantastic staff here doing fantastic things for our young people.”