The dream of having an on-site work skills centre at Three Ways Special School has become a reality. Three Ways School spent nearly eight years planning and fundraising to build and equip the Café before it could open to the public. We had wonderful support from local and national trust and grant makers, businesses and individuals to raise over £500,000 to get the centre open.
The aim of the centre is to develop employability skills for young people with a range of disabilities and give real-life experience in a café and shop which is open to the public. Over the next year we hope to have young people completing work placements and qualifications in the centre. We are developing links with local employers and training providers in order to ensure that the young people have options when they leave school.
The Centre will enable all students using the facilities to gain vital work skills including communication, customer service experience, money handling skills, time management and working as part of a team. We hope that these key work skills to lead to paid employment and further training opportunities. We want to give the students the same chances to join the world of work as any other school leaver. We believe they should have the satisfaction of contributing to the economy and supporting themselves as working adults.
We have worked closely with local environmental health to create a bespoke basic food hygiene course and all the young people are able to gain this qualification.
3 Café Kitchen provides a direct solution to National Reports and research showing that young people with Special Needs and Disabilities are hugely disadvantaged by their lack of qualifications and access to employment. This new facility will provide improved transition to education and work, and help us to further ensure that we are preparing the young people for open or supported employment and giving options for the future.
Jo Stoaling, Deputy Head says ‘We want all students to be able to support themselves and to live as independently as possible. We want to provide the support and guidance for young people with special needs to gain qualifications and experience to go on to college or to a supported work employment. Our young people are keen to be an important, reliable part of our local work force.’
Emily Danquah a Parent at Three Ways School says ‘The opportunities our children are going to have through the centre are amazing. To get recognised catering and customer service qualifications and the experience of working in a café and shop will be wonderful. This will help our children to become one step closer to supporting themselves and being as independent as possible.’