Young adults with additional needs are gaining valuable skills thanks to the opening of an employment training centre at a Wigan beauty spot.
The Hamlet at Three Sisters recreation area in Ashton is providing young adults with learning difficulties or special needs the opportunity to train for voluntary or full time work.
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Located in the former ranger’s cottage at the popular nature spot, “The Nest Cafe” and “Lakeside Printing” are two of the services launched by Hope School and College in Marus Bridge thanks to a £50,000 grant from Enovert Community Trust.
The small businesses give the staff, aged between 19 and 25-years-old, a chance to gain important skills and experience through work-based learning.
Gemma Crompton, head of provision at The Hamlet, said that the vision is to provide a number of small business much like those that would be found in a small village, or a hamlet.
“We have two vocations currently, hospitality and printing,” she said. “We are starting slowly and building it up. We are currently serving drinks at the cafe for members of the public.
“What we don’t want to do is open it and our staff end up covering for the young people.
“We want them to be doing everything and gaining confidence along the way as well as learning the skills to really cope with as little support as possible.”
Lakeside Printing, which is also open at the site, offers the adults the chance to learn about the printing trade, creating personalised gifts for customers.
“We are focusing on canvasses and mugs at the moment because that’s what they are competent with but we are also looking to do jigsaws and tee shirts,” added Gemma.
“We are called The Hamlet because we want to open a range of vocations much like what you would find in a small village - that’s where the name comes from.”
On top of the two businesses, The Hamlet is in the process of opening a laundrette so that their young people can wash and dry their own uniforms.
“It’s an important life skill for them to learn,” added Gemma. “We are extremely grateful to Enovert Community Trust for its generous grant, which has turned our vision for The Hamlet into a reality.
“Our cafe leader, Julie Gaskell and Lakeside Printing manager David Higgins are doing a really great job of it too.”
As well as receiving the grant, The Hamlet is also doing independent fund-raising to help pay for the costs of launching new facilities.
Angela Haymonds, secretary of Enovert Community Trust, said: “The Trustees were delighted to support development of The Hamlet.
“This innovative project will make a real difference, not just to the trainees from Hope School and College, who will be able to learn new skills and pursue their interests, but to the wider community by providing a much-needed resource.”
Plans for the site were first submitted in 2017 but work has only recently been completed.