Children and young people with physical, learning difficulties and complex medical needs attend Saxon Hill Academy from the age of two through to 19 years old. We became very aware that once students had left the academy at 19, many had difficulty finding opportunities for work related learning and employment.

Many of the academy’s former pupils would contact the academy looking for these supported opportunities. This provided us with a challenge and as there was a limited capacity for many volunteers within classrooms and few opportunities to develop the range of skill sets that former students required. We knew we had to create something new.

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Saxon Hill Craft Barn

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Saxon Hill Cafe

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Shenstone Garden Centre


Saxon Hill Craft Barn

Saxon Hill Craft Barn was established in 2012 originally named “Lichfield Scrap Barn” We are a craft store that uses clean business waste and donated items from the public, as arts, craft and play resources. We are a member of Scrap Stores UK and there are many Scrap Stores within the UK making use of items that would otherwise have gone to landfill sites. Saxon Hill Craft Barn is based in the beautiful location of Chasewater Country Parks on the edge of Burntwood and Brownhills. The store has a large customer base with many returning customers looking for crafting items at wonderfully low prices. The Craft Barn has a thriving Facebook page crammed with ‘make and do’ suggestions and all the current offers. With new deliveries being made all the time, we never know what interesting items may be added to the offers next week, check our Facebook page here.

The academy students access the store twice per week where there are two Craft Barn units. In the workshop unit, students learn skills to help manufacture and assemble craft packs ready for sale. In the retail unit, students price up and face up stock on the shelves, operate the till and learn about customer service during opening hours. The store has recently received extensive refurbishment and as a result there will now be more opportunities for the community to access this work based learning. We are currently exploring partnerships with other organisations to broaden our work based offer at this venue.

Saxon Hill Community Cafe

The Community Connect Café was established in 2013 and is based on the site of Saxon Hill Academy. It is open for the use of pupils, staff and visitors to the academy and also during ‘out of school’ hours, the café is open to the community. The café serves a variety of hot and cold food and drink in an attractive, warm and friendly environment. The café is open on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am until 3pm and is currently run by the academy’s catering team and supported by local volunteers. On Mondays the café is operated in partnership with ‘Options for Life’ a non-profit making voluntary organisation providing a range of innovative opportunities for people with learning disabilities, enabling them to enjoy the same rights and opportunities as non-disabled people. Options for Life operate through a Direct Payment / Personal Budget scheme where adults apply for this funding through Social Services to access this fully supported, bespoke service. Options for Life work alongside our current students, supporting our former students to learn the crucial work skills involved in ordering café stock, preparing and serving food and drink, handling money and managing customer service. Students are able to qualify for their Level 1 Food Health and Hygiene
certificate whilst working in our café.

cafe-3We are continually striving to develop vocational pathways that support young people with disabilities through their school career and into adulthood. With Saxon Hill Community Connect and its strong community links and partnerships, our vocational provision is greatly enhanced. We are supporting ever more placements for vulnerable adults within our expanding range of vocational venues. Each of these placements enables students to work towards fully accredited qualification courses in Independent Living and Preparing for Work. As we equip these young people with the knowledge, the skills and the confidence to work, we are getting ever closer to empowering them to forge ahead, making their contribution to the community and leading fulfilling lives.

Wyevale Garden Centre, Shenstone

shenstone-1shenstone-4We had established a close relationship with a local garden centre and it was agreed that we could build our very own class base at the Wyevale, Shenstone site. This provided a warm, comfortable base for students to make their own drinks and lunches during their visits. This enabled students to stay on site for much longer periods and the work opportunities increased rapidly. Now students use this work base three days per week and learn valuable work skills such as unpacking deliveries, stacking shelves, facing up products, designing displays, pricing up products and scanning purchases at the tills. This project is a huge success as students benefit enormously from the expertise of the corporate retail world.

shenstone-3shenstone-2Flushed with success, we wanted to expand the range of work based opportunities available to our students. Saxon Hill Community Connect Co. was established in 2012 by Saxon Hill Academy. We had identified this lack of variety of work based learning opportunities for young people and adults with physical and learning difficulties. Saxon Hill decided to take a pro-active approach and looked to develop businesses that current pupils could access as part of their curriculum whilst also offering opportunities for our former pupils to return to in order to learn new independence and work related skills. As a result, two businesses were created; Saxon Hill Craft Barn and Saxon Hill Community Café.

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