1. Tell us what you do.
Currently only 7% of young people in the UK with a learning difficulty get paid employment after leaving education and training. We aim to equip our young people with employability skills and giving them the opportunity to work on all aspects product design and development, marketing and retailing.
The Westminster School is determined to address this issue through the curriculum and opportunities we offer our young people. In September 2016, we established our Social Enterprise initiative, 7to97, which complemented our work experience and vocational further education courses that we already had in place at school.
One of our key aims is to raise awareness in the local business community of the talents and skills of our students (e.g. creativity, work ethic, passion) and how they would be an invaluable asset to any business. All of our young people aspire to work when they leave education, with many saying they want to be able support their families in the future through paid employment.
2. What is your proudest achievement?
Our proudest achievement is that all students involved in the 7to97 project have had the opportunity to sell to the public through street markets. They have shown confidence when serving customers, and this was particularly evident at Digbeth Arts Market. Students gave up their Saturday to help set up and run the stall. We are extremely proud of all the young people who have taken part in the project.
3. What are your plans for the future and some of the challenges you face?
Our plans moving forward are to diversify and expand our range of products and increase our links with local business. We have been very fortunate to be supported by a local steel company who regularly donate items to us and we are currently in discussions with a wedding company in Birmingham in order to support them with wedding favours. We have also been approached by Digbeth Dining Club and the Arts Market to run more stalls at future events.
4. How can SCVO help to support your organisation in the future?
We would like SCVO to support us by signposting us to people who could give business advice and guidance to our students, and provide general support to our 7to97 initiative to help ensure that we give our students the best possible chance of getting the skills they need for paid employment.