The college’s shop offers a complete retail experience stocked with items by students in the college’s Supported Learning department and operated by students from the Ready for Retail group to gain experiences in a working retail environment. A goal of this project is to help improve the real-life employment rate of people with disabilities in the future, which is currently at 4.1%.
Beginning as a tuck shop out of a classroom in Motherwell campus in 2019, the shop was created to offer workplace opportunities for students with learning disabilities.
The shop was soft-opened on 18th November 2022 to get the students used to a busy shop floor, before officially opening on the 25th November. It was stocked with Christmas-themed items that had been prepared in advanced in September.
When the college closed for the Christmas holidays, over £2500 of profits had been made by the shop. The students and staff decided to donate the money to support people through the economic difficulties of the cost-of-living crisis by giving it the NCL Foundation to assist the NCL free breakfast campaign.
Stephen Cotter, Head of Support Learning at New College Lanarkshire, commented on the skills that the students can gain from the program;
“The Braw Wee Shop is an embodiment of our departmental aim which is to ‘Prepare our students for the future by engaging them in the present’. We want them to feel prepared for working environments and take on new challenges that come with them.
We were thrilled with the response when we opened in November for our pre-Christmas run and business has been booming! We’re excited to be able to give the students this opportunity and how it’ll continue to grow.”
It’s had a glowing review from the students who work there, like Ciara Chapman who said
“It’s a good wee shop. People are friendly and we help each other.”
The success of the Braw Wee Shop in the Motherwell Campus has led to plans for two more Braw Wees in the Coatbridge and Cumbernauld campuses.