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Visable Learning Skills for Business, Skills for Life

Personalised, aspiration driven work training programmes for people with learning difficulties

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.

Our Mission Offer

Based at our SAND cafe, on Lyndhurst Road, and other sites around Worthing, we offer a variety of enterprise pathways for the 16-25 year old SEND community .

How We Do It

Everything we do at the Sand Project works within our 5ade Framework, created here at The Sand Project. We believe these are the ‘5-a-day-expectations’ that need to be met if we are to increase employability of SEND young people.

As well as progress and impact monitoring and assessment, this framework allows personalisation for each trainee, particularly at the TRAINING stage, when accreditations can be incorporated where appropriate and necessary.

Real Life Business Day to Day

Students will have the opportunity to work in our SAND cafe, kitchen, creative media hub and art related projects. They may even progress to developing and selling their own products.

Promotion

The Sand Project believes the only way to change the profile of SEND employment is through changing the perception or employers and industry. We positively promote the work of our young people and the organisation through responsible documentary storytelling and social media.

Trainees on our FE pathways will receive an online link to their personal multimedia record of progress, maintained throughout their training at Visable, to support future job applications. We hope the effective use of social media will prove as vital to our trainees as any accreditation.

Developing Entrepreneurs

Resilience, perseverance, confidence, motivation and creativity. These are just some of the skills associated with the identifying and seizing of self serving opportunities. And often these skills are absent in SEND job seekers.

We teach the entrepreneurial skills needed to create opportunity for themselves.

The Programmes

We currently run programmes for school based group cohorts (SEND to Enterprise), and workplace based individuals (SEND to Work or SEND to Self Employment)

For more information regarding the individual programmes please follow the link below

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 dependants – 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. BUT 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

#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 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. Kate, MD

Meet the Team

Not only are we experienced teachers, but we each have a specialist business interest which is specifically matched to trainees, to suit their interests and potential career pathways. Our aim is to create a supportive working environment, different from the classroom experience they will be used to. They will be treated as employees in our business in which we facilitate their progression towards independence and an entrepreneurial spirit!

Creating pathways that are ASPIRATIONAL, ACHIEVABLE, and ACCESSIBLE

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 Employment Consultant , WorkAid

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, Headteacher, Oak Grove College

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, Mother to Jared

For more information, or to register interest, please email kate@thesandproject.co.uk (or just pop in to the cafe for a chat!)

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Created By
Kate Wilson
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