A shop selling student essentials has opened at New College Lanarkshire’s Coatbridge Campus – and it’s all thanks to the initiative of students in the Faculty of Supported Learning.
The Wee Shop in F2, which is located on the first floor across from the student lounge, sells a range of drinks, snacks, stationery, reusable coffee cups, USB memory sticks and mobile phone accessories.
Initially open two days per week, the shop is operated by nine students on the Ready for Retail programme. The course is aimed at learners with additional support needs to support them in development of independence and employability skills.
Nicola Mulholland, Assistant Head of Faculty of Supported Learning, cut the ribbon to officially open the shop and welcome its first customers.
The ceremony began with a speech from student Dean Anderson, who was nominated as the shop’s manager by his peers.
The 22-year-old from Bellshill recently won an award at North Lanarkshire’s Community Learning & Development Partnership Celebration of Learning ceremony in the ‘Developing the Young Workforce’ category.
Dean said: “We are very excited about opening The Wee Shop – we have been working very hard for the past few months setting it up and learning about customer service.
“We have decided to run the business as a social enterprise and will be using the money that we make to promote positive mental health throughout New College Lanarkshire.
“We hope that we are able to make a difference.”
The idea for the shop arose last year when the students, then enrolled on a Skills for Life course, operated a stall selling student essentials as part of the regular Market Day events at the College.
They came up with the idea of securing a more permanent space – and won £250 in funding through finishing in second place in the ‘What’s the Big Idea?!’ competition to encourage entrepreneurial skills.
Working with the Estates team at Coatbridge Campus, a storage room was cleared and converted into a space where students can now put their learning into practice.
Lecturer Audrey Mackrell said: “The students on the Skills for Life class last year thought that it would be really good if there was somewhere students could go and buy a charger if their phone runs out of battery, and from there they decided that it would be good to start a shop selling charging cables and other student essentials.
“The idea that the Ready for Retail students now run The Wee Shop in F2 is amazing – when I first met these students a few years ago they would not have had the confidence to put this idea into practice, and to now see them serving customers and having the responsibility of running a walk-in shop is just fantastic.
“They have really blossomed into confident individuals in their time at college and it is a great opportunity for them to develop their employability and entrepreneurial skills in preparation for the future.”
The Wee Shop is supported by the John Mather Trust, Young Enterprise Scotland, Bridge2Business and the College’s Market Day initiative.