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MIWA gives back

East London workshops recently raised a hand to help learners with special needs. Here’s why they loved the experience.

The author Antoine de Saint Exupery once said “When you give yourself, you receive more than you give.”

A number of East London workshops (including Rob’s Motors, Automed Service Centre, Cliffie’s Auto Repairs, Stirling Auto Centre, D&T Servicing, and Midas Bowls Road recently discovered the truth in these words when they joined forces with Baysville School of Skills to create job shadowing opportunities for learners.

Baysville School of Skills provides training in disciplines like welding, woodwork and hairdressing for learners with special needs. When one of the Baysville teachers approached Teresa Spenser-Higgs, asking if she could help place a learner in a workshop for a week to help them gain exposure to the workplace, MIWA was eager to help. When other workshops were informed of the request, they also responded quickly, ultimately helping 30 students over a two-week period between 11 and 20 September. Each workshop welcomed one student in an admin position and one in the workshop.

We were informed of the learners’ needs ahead of time so that we were able to prepare. The learners were also given time to prepare themselves: the assignment was structured like a real-life job application, so they had to take part in an interview and submit a CV. Once they had completed their week, each participating workshop would provide a mini testimonial.

The experience was a very positive one. We were greatly impressed by the learners’ outlook and their determination to learn. We even heard of one participant who woke up at 4:00 and travelled for an hour to make it to work on time, while another challenged himself to cope without his walking frame because his transport would charge more if he took it on board. As Lewton at Automed said, “I enjoyed teaching the learners, and the experience was even better because they were so grateful to learn. They said they learnt a lot, even in that short time.”

Opportunities like this help to address the skills shortage in our industry by igniting a passion among tomorrow’s generation, and we are grateful to have been given the chance to take part and to clearly demonstrate that disability is not an obstacle and learners can follow their dreams.