A Wigan school has launched an innovative scheme to help young adults with additional needs - and it needs your help.
Hope School And College, in Marus Bridge, has set up The Hamlet for people aged 19 to 25 to help them move into full-time employment or voluntary work.
They have secured a derelict ranger base at Three Sisters Recreation Area, in Bryn, and will run small businesses there, gaining important skills and experience.
Gemma Crompton, head of provision, said: “In the past, after looking at what provisions are available for our students in the future, there have been limited successful stories about our students going into employment.
“For some of our students, that’s what they want to do - get up in the morning and go to work - and why shouldn’t they?
“We decided to set up this provision because we felt that the students aren’t ready to go into employment yet and we don’t set our students up to fail.
“We have opened a six-year provision where they will be called trainees and can learn skills in a range of vocational businesses that will be set up by us.”
The provision launched in September and the trainees are already learning catering skills and using printing equipment to create personalised items such as mugs.
More businesses will be set up in future, which could see them learning floristry, for example, or other vocations depending on the trainees’ interests.
The trainees are currently based at Hope School, but will move to the ranger base at Three Sisters, which has been derelict for the past 15 years.
It will include a cafe, which will be open to members of the public, and a conference room available to hire for meetings, exercise classes and other purposes.
Mrs Crompton said: “We see it as a perfect opportunity. We are providing a service for our trainees that want to learn a vocation but we are also providing the community with a much-wanted cafe.
“The general public have been seeking a cafe there for many years.”
She believes the new provision could make a real difference.
Mrs Crompton said: “The Hamlet will build confidence. Hopefully in the future the trainees could go into voluntary, supported or non-supported employment.
“It gives them a sense of purpose to get up in a morning and go to work and be accepted as part of the community.”
First, the school needs to secure the funding to renovate the ranger base and is applying for several grants.
It is currently leading an online vote for the chance to receive between £10,000 and £25,000 which would be used to help pay for the refurbishment.
So Wiganers are being urged to get behind the project and cast their votes.
Mrs Crompton said: “At the moment were are in first place and there are 205 applicants, but somebody over the weekend has caught us up and is 90 votes behind us.
“Each person has 10 votes and we are only nine people behind, so we need a really big push.
“It’s about getting our name out as well as the votes. We need as much support as we can get.”
It is hoped the trainees will be able to move into the renovated ranger base next year.
As well as backing The Hamlet in the online poll, people can help in other ways.
Mrs Crompton said: “We are open to any support. It’s been very humbling to see how many people want to offer their support and services. We have had a lot of donations, whether that be monetary donations or volunteering.”
To vote for The Hamlet, go to community-fund.aviva.co.uk before noon on Tuesday.
The winners will be announced in January.