Kingsbridge Community Works, a unique project run by Learn Devon, has celebrated its first anniversary.
The initiative was launched by Learn Devon, the County Council’s adult education service, with the aim of supporting traders in Kingsbridge while teaching digital and work skills to learners with learning disabilities.
Funded through Devon County Council’s recovery programme following the Coronavirus pandemic, learners have produced a regular flyer that promotes local businesses in Kingsbridge free of charge.
As part of Learning Disability Week (20-26 June), Kingsbridge Community Works is celebrating one year in business. Starting with just five traders a year ago, it now works with more than 64 local businesses and learners have designed, produced, and distributed over 17 flyers in the local community.
Caroline Ross, Learn Devon’s tutor who runs the project in Kingsbridge, said: “The initial aim was to help our learners with learning disabilities into employment by giving them work-relevant experience that can help them get a job, however, I feel we’ve achieved so much more than that.”
For Tristan Powlesland, from Malborough, his whole world changed when he was introduced to the internet through the project. He said: “My life is so different at home now thanks to being part of Kingsbridge Community Works. I now have a tablet and internet at home. Through Kingsbridge Community Works I got to know the guys at the phone shop in Kingsbridge and I am happy to go and see them if I have a problem with my connection or my tablet.”
The project helped Thomas Janman, from Blackawton, regain his confidence after the series of lockdowns. He said: “Kingsbridge Community Works helped me get out and about after lockdown. It’s made me go into places I haven’t been in before. It has helped my confidence to speak to people I don’t know. I can now use SWAY and Canva to design things and really like helping others to use it too. I have learned how to use a tablet and now train everyone on that and the laptop.”
Another learner, Cathy Smith, from Kingsbridge, said: “I am proud of what we do. I would never have gone in the butchers before. I am now confident, and I can go in and buy something.”
Some of the learners who are taking part in the project have gone on to gain employment locally. Louise Thomson, from Kingsbridge, said: “When I first started at Kingsbridge Community Works, I was very quiet and the project helped me feel more confident. I am excited about starting my new job and I feel ready to work in an office because of the skills I have learned from my courses with Learn Devon and Kingsbridge Community Works. I feel like I’m professional.”
Local businesses featured in the flyers have also benefited from the scheme. Emma Carter, from Catch of the Day Fishmongers in Kingsbridge, said: “We are so pleased we advertised with Kingsbridge Community Works as we now have some new customers! We absolutely love the project, and we are always talking about it to our customers. We would love to get involved more and help in whatever way we can.”
Thanks to the success of Kingsbridge Community Works the project has expanded to Tavistock, Bideford and Newton Abbot.
Businesses and prospective learners who would like to take part in the project are encouraged to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org