We have a long history with Swarthmore College in Leeds. We’ve hosted a number of short and long-term placements for their students – all of whom have some form of additional educational need. Many students that came to us started helping in the shop, accompanied by a member of the Swarthmore team. As the students built confidence, they gained greater independence. For example, finding their way to us and returning home or back to college at the end of the session.
We started a new project to help those that are unlikely to progress academically, to gain practical work skills. It was important to provide something that engaged students with a short attention span and that was within their abilities. So, we decided on short 2-hour sessions, where a group of four students would come to the shop. Each group would be accompanied by members of the Swarthmore team.
The students worked with our staff, sorting and hanging clothing. This meant the students were well supervised by having two students per staff member. Due to the small group sizes, we were able to ensure a fun experience for everyone involved. The sessions were usually timed to come in and help at busy periods. As a result, they affectionately became known as the Swarthmore Hit Squad.