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What is Visable Learning?
Visable is the name of our training facility, community hub and enterprise nerve centre.
It is, quite simply, a shop and cafe on the High Street in Worthing providing bespoke real-life work opportunities for people with learning difficulties based on what they WANT to do, and ensures their community ‘customers’ are fully included and involved in this process.
How It Started
A community venture and social enterprise set up by Kate in 2017, The Sand Project produced a variety of enterprises in its start up year; School Ground Coffee, a school based online coffee delivery service and Barista training programme for students, Visable Inc, an accessible magazine freely distributed to community groups, mainstream and SEN schools across West Sussex, and Stars and Dandelions, a preloved children’s goods shop offering retail and customer service training.
In the last year, Kate realised it was not enough simply creating ‘one size fits all’ work placements.
In order to engage, motivate and encourage unemployed SEND young people into the workplace, accessible pathways have to be created into what they WANT to do, not limit their choices to what we expect them to be able to achieve.
Visable will still offer the work experiences of our existing enterprises, but our aim is to create as many pathways as our trainees need us to, to move them one step further into employment.
What We Do
Everything we do at the Sand Project works within our 5ade Framework, created by Kate.
These are the ‘5-a-day-expectations’ that need to be met if we are to increase employability of SEND young people.
- Creation of enterprises and experience opportunities in personalised ‘aspirational’ industries to provide a framework for…
- Training and specialist support for #Skillsbuilder focused work experience, until trainees demonstrate the appropriate confidence and skill to receive…
- Promotion amongst related industries who feel confident enough to allow the…
- Transition of our trainees into their own businesses, with employer and employee supported by our specialist team, until such a time the new employee works independently and…
- Immersion of the SEND trainee is complete, as fully included part of the mainstream employee team.
Why We Do It
In West Sussex, only 3.2% of known people with learning difficulties are in paid employment.
This means 96.8% are unemployed and living on benefits – often never leaving home, living as dependents – and increasingly likely to remain so. In addition, this long term unemployment will statistically contribute to reduced physical, mental and emotional wellbeing which will impact on healthcare and NHS resources.
In short, unemployment is a massive burden to any economy.
Many people with moderate learning difficulties are ABLE to work.
Many people with moderate learning difficulties WANT to work.
So why don’t they?
Some of the reasons that have become apparent to Kate in her years in SEND education are:
- Inadequate work experience placements whilst at school or college due to low expectations of employers, or the ‘fear’ of working with people that may require ‘too much extra time or support’.
- Insufficient emphasis placed on the importance of teaching work related skills, as defined by our partner group #Skillsbuilder
- Detrimental college experiences. For students who have spent most of their education in well supported Special Schools, the move to mainstream colleges can be overwhelming, and in some cases, damaging. Even for those who do not drop out (and disappear into the system), the lack of transition support into next step placements and careers means they leave college with nothing to show for their time there, rendering their college years nothing more than a ‘holding pen’.
- The mainstream workplace is not always accessible for highly skilled people with autism, such as my trainees Libby and Gemma, who are graduates in creative arts but find the prospect of communicating with clients and colleagues inhibiting.
- Learned passivity. As young people used to the system and the people around them supporting their needs, resilience, perseverence and creativity – and other skills associated with the identifying and seizing of self serving opportunities – are often absent in SEND job seekers. In short, no one has taught them the entrepreneurial skills needed to create opportunity for themselves.
What many employers have overlooked, are the BENEFITS of employing people from the SEND community. Attention to detail, work positivity, diligent attendance, enjoyment of repetitive activities, sense of humour, thinking outside the box, honesty, fun… I don’t choose to work with this community out of a sense of charitable duty. These young people have inspired and contributed to some of the best business and enterprise ideas I’ve ever had and each day I go to work excited by what we will all come up with next.
How We Do It
Sometimes our methods are conventional; a young person comes to us with an idea of what they’d like to do, we set them up to do this in our existing business, we take lots of photos and videos demonstrating their particular skills, and we promote them on social media to actively attract a business who will agree to transition our trainee into their company for us to support through induction.
See Jared’s promotional film here.
Sometimes our methods are less conventional; a young person comes to us with an already competent skill but with too much anxiety to enter the professional work force, we become an intermediary ‘agent’ sourcing contracts and work on their behalf AND we create an enterprise for them to launch and run, as a supported way into self employment.
And very occasionally, our methods are UNconventional. Because we believe every young person has the right to have big dreams for themselves. And we never assume any dream is impossible (if the marketing behind it is good enough). We use innovation to turn the smallest of sparks into a very small flame.
To see how we took Stevie’s passion and turned it into something commercially viable (tattoo art!) click here.
By incorporating our core values into everything we do, we ensure every young person has the best possible chance to #SENDtoIndependence.
A Special Kind of Business
Are you 19-25 with moderate SEND with a high level skill but finding the work place inaccessible? We work with you and your specialism to create a personalised enteprise to help you learn start-up self-employment skills. One-to-One time with Kate to establish a...read more
Are you 19-25 with moderate SEND looking to find work doing something you LOVE? We create training opportunities based on things YOU love doing and promote your progress to encourage other companies to support your transition into their mainstream business. Access to...read more
Are you a school or college looking for work experience placements for your SEND sixth form students? For one academic year, the Sand Project can offer up to 12 of your students a once a week enterprise experience like no other. Throughout the 38 week (one day a week)...read more
Testimonials for The Sand Project
Kate, your work is an inspiration to us all! I have been supporting a very talented young artist with Autism. We had started on socialisation activities and trying to get my client to be able to work to a brief. She was very shy at meetings and unsure of how she’d like to work. On meeting Kate at Stars and Dandelions, this young lady was the most confident I had seen her in a social situation. Kate’s warmth and compassion shines through, creating a welcoming atmosphere at first meeting. Kate is attentive and adaptable, re-wording questions to help a client respond openly. In just a couple of sessions it is inspiring to see the working relationship between Kate and my client growing rapidly. The young lady is now creating artwork/designs to a brief and starting to communicate her ideas on email. Thank you so much Kate for all the energy and hard work you put into supporting young people, your service truly is invaluable for our clients!Jackie Wickham
Kate is an inspirational teacher who works with young people to transform the skills they have developed in schools to ones they confidently use in the wider community to ensure they can become economically active.
It is a pleasure to work with Kate who has such a passion for enabling young people with learning needs to take charge of their own destiny and become full, economically active adults in the community.Phillip Potter
Your mentoring service is much needed. Especially for parents and carers of young adults. Particularly your tailor-made and imaginative approach. Basically we are knackered and need motivating and I am so happy for your valuable help and advice!! It feels great to have some backup and new ideas to work on.Kathryn B
Be Included, Get Involved