Debbie Muir, All Together Edinburgh, Edinburgh (Level 1 and Level 2 Awardee)
Debbie is 41 years old and lives in Edinburgh and has written this case study in her own words.
I recognised that there was a lack of organisations providing training and employment opportunities in the field of retail for people with learning disabilities. I learnt of this gap during my 13 years in charity retailing when asked constantly by many organisations if I could provide placements for people with learning disabilities. I provided placements to address the need but realised that this needed to be on a bigger scale and more person-centred. I felt I had the necessary skills, experience and contacts to address this need.
- Training & employment opportunities in retail for people with learning disabilities
- 17 trainees, finish placement Aug 2012. One full-time & two part time staff
- Provides quality goods at affordable prices
- Level 1 award of £5,000 in July 2010 - completed
- Level 2 award of £20,000 in September 2011 - active
Journey High Points
- Secured charitable status, funding and support from Firstport and from Skills Path. Got a more suitable shop than the previous one that had fallen through
- Lloyds - 11 buildings providing stock collections. PWC & HSBC provide regular stock donations
- Contract with Border’s College for “Ready for “Retail Award” accredited training programme
- Successful opening the shop in June 2011
- Successful joint fashion show with NECAG
- Free van/staff partnership set up for stock collections
Journey Low Points
- Needed charitable status before negotiating & securing a shop. Was granted it after 5 months after many e-mails, questions and answers but it delayed the whole process. Consequently lost the first shop (the deal fell through). This set me back a further 4 months as I had to find another suitable shop. This affected confidence in the project and could have affected funding.
The Difference Made
My negotiating skills have improved and I have more contacts and partnerships with projects run by Edinburgh Council. I’ve learnt a lot about social care practices and have managed to run a successful enterprise (financially) whilst providing benefits to the trainees in the shop.
Vital Firsport Ingredients
- The Level 2 award will help me take on a member of staff so I can drive the business forward. Emphasis will be on stock collections so business will be sustainable.
- Firstport introduced me to a mentor from Lloyds Black Horse who has set up regular stock collections in their offices, links with volunteer organisations and have agreed to install a disabled toilet free of charge!
The shop has exceeded financial targets by making approx. £1200 per week. We have 17 trainees, on their way to achieving their Skills Accreditation or Ready for Retail Award and have gained in confidence and self-esteem. We have a massive demand for places in our training centre/charity shop and will continue to work with Skills Path (part of Edinburgh Council), IntoWork and projects within the Edinburgh Council. These relationships have proved to be a successful and symbiotic so no changes are planned. New plans include setting up a mobile charity shop and E-bay account