Life chances transformed for students with special educational needs at new college centre
Tuesday 23rd January 2018
A new specialist centre set to transform the lives of local adults has been officially opened in Nuneaton.
The LifeWorks Hub, based at the Nuneaton campus of North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College, was designed and created with the help of a grant from Warwickshire County Council, whose leader, Cllr Izzi Seccombe performed the opening ceremony.
LifeWorks is a dedicated and fully-accessible facility where students aged 19-24 with special educational needs or disabilities, follow a programme that helps them to gain skills for independent living and work.
The Hub has been designed to improve the employability of these students by helping them to make the transition between finishing academic study at college and entering the workplace.
Paul Fletton, deputy principal of North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College welcomed partners involved in the project to the special launch event and said, “The agenda for students with special educational needs and disabilities has never been more prominent.
“It is a key priority for us that every child and young person gets the opportunity to achieve their potential, find employment and have choice and control over their futures.
“At the LifeWorks Hub, they benefit from an individualised approach to planning for adulthood, including preparing them for independent living, learning how to look after their health, and understanding how they can access training, and achieve meaningful employment.
“It is vital that we raise expectations amongst young people and their families about what can be achieved by enabling better careers information and exposure to the wide range of choices available, gaining support within the workplace through effective engagement with employers, and collaborating with partners who can help them to focus on appropriate career destinations.”
The LifeWorks Hub includes modern facilities such as a training flat where students can learn how to cope with everyday tasks, a training kitchen and serving area, a therapies area to help build resilience and positive mental health, and a craft room and shop where students can make and sell items that they have created themselves. There is also a working café, the Coffee Hut, which is open to the College and its visitors.
Work experience is a core component of the course and all students are encouraged to make placement choices based on their individual skills, abilities, and interests. Current LifeWorks students are undertaking placements in a range of industries including catering, gardening, retail, and animal care.
Paul Fletton added, “We are very grateful for the support of local employers including Pets at Home, Hawksmoor Boarding Kennels, HMV, the British Heart Foundation, and the Miner’s Welfare Gardens.
“We hope that in future, LifeWorks will become a focal point for potential employers and community organisations to explore employment, work experience and community volunteering opportunities such as supported internships.”
Since opening its doors in September last year, the Hub has already enjoyed some notable successes. Students successfully set up and ran an open morning for Christmas, serving food and drink in the café. Plans for the rest of the year include further development of the kitchens enabling the Hub to launch an additional refreshment service within the college campus.