The Usual Place and College shine at Star Awards

A partnership between The Usual Place and Dumfries and Galloway College has scooped the top prize at the SQA Star Awards 2019.

The annual awards celebrate the outstanding achievements in education and training not just in Scotland, but throughout the UK and around the world.

The two organisations first scooped the Partnership of the Year accolade before going on to win the top prize, the Pride O’ Worth.

Tony Budde, chef and assessor at Dumfries and Galloway College, has been working with The Usual Place for the past three years. The community café offers opportunities to people with additional support needs.

Tony has delivered SVQ training to young people working at the café in subjects such as professional cookery, retail services, hospitality services, and facilities services.

Completing an SVQ qualification via the partnership allows the students from The Usual Place to move on to employment, apprenticeships, or mainstream further education with their skills, experience, and self-confidence enhanced.

Heather Hall, of The Usual Place, said the partnership began because young people attending the café asked if they could have the same opportunities as other young people, who didn’t have additional support needs, to allow them to achieve qualifications to move into future careers.

The Usual Place now provides that in a supported environment where their skills and abilities can be recognised right from the start.

“They can build their competencies and their personal vulnerabilities can be supported at the same time,” she said.

As the café runs as a proper business, the young people are getting real life experiences.

Heather added: “We can’t do this by ourselves and we have a fantastic partnership with the college. They have been so good working with us and working with the young people and trying things and reviewing them and developing the paperwork and documentation that means our young people have exactly the same opportunity as anyone else to compete in the world of work.

“Our young people by just coming here, working here and working with the college are developing the confidence and skills to move on in life and reach their potential. But much more than that they have a life to look forward to.”

The Usual Place said the awards success was testament to the hard work and achievement of all its young people, individually and collectively as they have challenged the poverty of hope and aspiration surrounding people with additional support needs and have eloquently voiced their desire for fundamental change.

“Young people are at the heart of all our partnership work and have quite clearly demonstrated that real change can only ever happen when everyone is equally valued and fully involved in all decision making and development,” they added.

Picture: SQA Awards.