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£4.9m Foundation and Independence Hub opened by local Team GB Paralympian

£4.9m Foundation and Independence Hub opened by local Team GB Paralympian

Gold-medal-winning Paralympian Aaron Phipps officially opened Brockenhurst College’s new Foundation and Independence Hub recently.

The wheelchair rugby star, who won gold in Tokyo, was joined by college leaders and representatives of Hampshire County Council for the opening ceremony.

Aaron, who is from Totton, emotionally reflected on his time in education as a double lower-limb amputee, adding about the Hub: “We never had anything like this.”

Shortly before declaring the new facility open, Aaron said: “You’re going to make so many stories and so many memories, you’re literally going to change people’s lives.”

He then cut the ribbon, which was held by two Foundation Studies students who joined Brock in September.

Brockenhurst College Principal, Helen Odhams, said: “This Hub is actually for all of us. It’s a place where we can all continue to learn about diversity, empathy and the importance of inclusion.

“It’s an opportunity for all of us to gain a deeper understanding of the unique challenges some of our students face and to celebrate the strengths and talents they bring to our community.”

The Principal also spoke to outline the Hub’s benefits in extending the College’s learning provision and thanked all the key players involved in the build individually by name.

The collective effort means that young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities can now benefit from improved educational and social opportunities.

Inside, the building comprises two distinct wings, with each wing benefitting from a dedicated garden area.

One wing is for Foundation Studies curriculum areas, while the other wing is equipped for learners requiring high-level, one-to-one support from healthcare practitioners and learning assistants.

In total, the new building contains 14 new classrooms, social space, staff space, meeting rooms and a student kitchen for learning to prepare meals.

There is also a physical therapy room and a hygiene room, both equipped with hoists, and a sensory room packed with colourful, pulsing fibre optic light sources.

In addition, the Hub has a host of green features including a ground source heat pump system and solar panels on the roof.

Councillor Steve Forster, the County Council’s Executive Member for Education, said:

“This hub is a perfect partnership where the college, council and employers can all work together to support young people with special educational needs or disabilities, to gain the right skills and experiences to secure employment and create a brighter future.”

Funding of £4m for the project was provided by the Department for Education’s Post-16 Capacity Fund.

This award was match-funded by £0.9m provided by Hampshire County Council through its High Needs Capital Funding.

Independence Hubs are being rolled out across Hampshire as part of Hampshire County Council’s ‘All Our Talents’ SEND Employability Action Plan.

The Brockenhurst College Hub is one of four Independence Hubs across Hampshire, and is the first to be housed in an entirely new building.

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