Harlow College ‘In The Making’ shop opens for business in Harvey Centre

‘In The Making’ Opens For Business

By Callum Hibberd

ON Saturday, a shop completely run by the students from Harlow College’s supported studies department opened to the public.

The shop, which was officially opened by Carly Duff, is to sell unique products which have been made from completely recycled products.

All products have been made by students with additional needs at Harlow College. They range in price from 50P to £20.

But so much more than product creation has gone into the making of the shop, something that Selina Avery and Louise Cooper were keen to stress. The latter, who has been the driving force behind the idea, told us: “Additional needs can range from Autism to ADHD to social anxiety. Despite this, all of the students in the department have chipped in. There has been a range of tasks for all of them. If a student didn’t feel comfortable painting the walls for example, they would’ve then had the chance to price the products instead, or decorate the front of the shop”

The shop, which used to be owned by D&Q Bridalwear and is located within Unit 55, The Water Gardens, was gifted to Phoenix, who in turn gifted it to Harlow College, having acknowledged the brilliant work done by The Supported Studies department. “It included things like card sales, where we co-operated with Phoenix and raised money for them”, said Avery, who is the head of the department.

As well as the wide array of products, there are multiple benefits of the shop, particularly for the students who have additional needs, with Cooper saying “This shop is based on creativity and craft, as opposed to the usual cafes (Which supported study schemes often run). We feel the students have responded well to the idea as it is artistic, visual and hands on. But it’s about more then that; this shop is a real work environment. There is a back area for production, while the front is an area where students can improve their customer service skills, talking to all different types of people, while carrying out important activities like handling money and replenishing shelves.

Many students feel like they’re themselves in the shop environment. It’s taken a bit of time to open up due to having to implement health and safety regulations etc., but we are really excited that it’s now up and running. We really feel students will come out of this with more confidence and a better chance of gaining work experiences. That is our main end goal”

The shop has been fitted out completely through donations. According to Cooper, “Harlow College and Phoenix doesn’t equal a lot of money. For example, the till was donated by a parent of a student in the department. Our units in the shop have come from a variety of places, such as local universities that have closed down parts of their campus and not needed the objects anymore”

There is an agreement in place with Phoenix that any profit made from the shop could go towards financing full time employment for students from The Supported Studies department.

Robert Halfon, Harlow’s MP, was in attendance for the opening, and was full of praise for the scheme, “It is absolutely beautiful and there are so many good things in here. I’ve just bought a birthday card for a good friend of mine. I’m so proud of Harlow College, it’s not just the best in England for skills and studies, but for everybody in general. It’s always at the heart of the community. I want to thank all the incredible students and staff, who have done a magnificent job in making this shop so special. I wish them lots of luck”

The department are working towards ‘Preparing (Students) for adulthood agenda’ – which is a national non-accredited program for students with additional needs. And as far as they’re aware, they’re the only college in England to have a shop outside of campus that is completely run by students with additional needs. The department also run art and design classes in the back area of the shop.

Anyone can and is welcome to donate to the Supported Studies department. To find out more, contact the college at 01279868000.

Here at YourHarlow, we would like to congratulate the students of the department on a fantastic achievement, and wish them all the success possible.

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