Croydon residents with disabilities wanting a career in retail have begun a council-run course that gives them a head start.
Now in its second year, All About Me develops participants’ hands-on retail experience by setting up shop for eight weeks in a unit of The Whitgift Centre. In addition to selling artisan products to customers, they will learn about teamwork and workplace ethics, while improving their communication skills and building their confidence.
As part of the course, the participants, who have a range of disabilities and include several young care leavers, also have the option to gain a Level 1 City & Guilds qualification.
The shop sells a range of handmade artisan products from jewellery and bags to clothes, homewares and art, some of which have been created by community groups, schools and independent artists, including residents with disabilities. Located in the former Chickadee store site, opposite H. Samuels, the shop is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday, until 15 November.
Participants on the previous course used their experience to get paid jobs in retail, an apprenticeship and a place on an entrepreneurial course.
The scheme was set up by the council’s Gateway service, which works to support vulnerable residents including those at risk of homelessness and adults with disabilities so they have greater confidence to become job ready, gain improved financial stability and independence.
“The All About Me course gives disabled jobseekers greater independence by improving their retail skills, job prospects and earning potential.
“Last year’s course gave people invaluable hands-on retail experience and a real confidence boost in their chosen sector, and some even got jobs as a result. I look forward to seeing how this latest group get on.”
Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed, cabinet member for economy and jobs
Alison Keattch took part in last year’s course, using her experience and qualification to get a job at Card Factory. She said: “It was a great experience. I learnt new skills, customer service, using the till, working in a team and more. I’m happy I gained a retail qualification as well.
“All About Me helped me build on my confidence too. I was supported by Michelle Scott (an enablement and employment support officer at Croydon Council) and my team mates. We all worked well together. After the All about Me course, Michelle and I applied for retail work and got a job as customer assistant at Card Factory.”