A group of learners with learning difficulties and disabilities from the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London recently formed a company to design and sell bags – and scooped a prize for presenting their business idea at a London Young Enterprise event.

The group, who were accompanied by their teachers Susan Raymond and Svar Simpson, have been working together for the whole of the last year. Susan said: “They have done everything from choosing the name of their company – Creations – to coming up with a logo and then designing and making their own hand-made Christmas cards and designer bags.” The learners went on to sell their creations, marketing the Christmas cards to College staff and selling their bags direct to the public at central London’s Spitalfields Market.

Explaining their well-deserved recent accolade, Susan said: “Our learners were entered into the London finals of the Young Enterprise competition, which encourages young people to experience running their own business, and they attended a grand event at Canary Wharf. They had prepared a presentation about their company, and even written a ‘rap’ about their experiences. They had practiced really hard in the run up to the event, so we were all delighted that the group won the award for best presentation.”

Learner Ceylan Diyenli, 19, said: “At the beginning I felt shy because I didn’t know anybody. Now I know how to sew, iron, do art and I’m better at English and maths.” Her fellow team member Abdi Roble said: “It’s been great - I learned how to run business and I got to be creative!”

While the competition was great fun, it is also an important part of the curriculum for learners with learning difficulties. The College’s Supported Learning programme focuses on preparing these learners for independent living and the world of work. As Susan Raymond explained: “Being part of a genuine company gives the learners real experience in producing and selling goods, and they were justifiably proud of themselves, as were we!”

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