For many people, Christmas is about spending time with the people they love and giving gifts to one another, a tradition which has its origins in the Christmas story or nativity. We wanted to share with you, a rather special Christmas giving opportunity …
Students with special educational need and disabilities (SEND) from West, East and Broomfield SILCs (Specialist Inclusive Learning Centres), Green Meadows Academy, St John’s School for the Deaf and the Lighthouse School have been working in partnership with the Voice Influence and Change Team to set up a Christmas pop-up shop at Kirkgate Market (Unit 7). ‘Compass House’ will be open Mon 6 to Fri 10 December 2021, 10am – 2pm and the students will be selling beautiful hand-crafted gifts such as bath bombs, Christmas decorations & cards and lots more – priced at just £5 or less.
The project provides valuable work experience for students with special educational needs and disabilities. In 2017, SILC students took part in the ‘Mark Your Mark’ ballot – the UK’s largest youth consultation. From the ten issues, the students collectively voted that ‘A Curriculum to Prepare Us For Life’ as the top issue of interest to them. Following on from this ballot, students from the West and South SILCs ran a ‘youth takeover’ of the SEND Partnership Board in 2017 and spoke to the board about what a ‘curriculum for life’ meant for them.
In 2018, the same students opened their first Christmas pop-up shop. It was so successful that they decided to run an annual pop-up, now known as Compass House which provides ‘equality through enterprise’. One of the main issues that students with SEND face, is finding valuable work experience. This partnership project with the specialist schools, the Voice Influence and Change Team and Leeds Kirkgate Market provides an amazing work experience opportunity, which the students love and become thoroughly involved with. The students are involved in making all the key decisions, attend planning meetings, come up with ideas of how to promote and publicise the shop, as well as make all the hand-crafted gifts. The project gives the participants a great experience, is something they can include on their CV when applying for jobs and teaches them useful work skills in a practical ‘hands-on’ way.
The project is a fantastic example of how Leeds Kirkgate Market as a Child Friendly Leeds Ambassador is working in partnership to improve opportunities and outcomes for the children and young people of Leeds, by providing the shop unit free of charge. It’s also a great example of how Leeds is responding to the voices, wishes and aspirations of young people and is part of us striving to become a more child friendly city.
Here are a few quotations from those involved which highlight the beneficial results of the project:
It was good working with people from the other SILCs and the Lighthouse School. I have made some new friends.’ (Student)
“Compass House is a great way for students to experience an unfamiliar environment, gain confidence and improve their social skills. A great memory of this year’s Compass House Christmas, was of two of our students stood outside the shop, deep in conversation with a couple of their colleagues from another SILC … something which would not have happened had it not been for our involvement in the project.” (Teacher)
“I enjoyed myself and enjoyed selling items to people and making money.” (Student)
Please do show your support for our young people in the following way:
- Call into Kirkgate Market between Mon 6 – Fri 10 December between 10am – 2pm and visit the pop-up shop ‘Compass House’
- Buy a few items from them – all profit made is put back into the project so it can run the following year.
- Promote Compass House on social media and encourage other people to visit, especially anyone famous you know – like a LUFC or Rhinos player (the students would love that)! Their Facebook account is @CompassHouseLS
- Think about what work experience opportunities you might be able to provide or support, for students with SEND in the future.
If you’re coming into Leeds to visit Compass House at Kirkgate Market, why not see what other Christmas events are also on: https://www.visitleeds.co.uk/winter-season/
If you’d like to find out more about the projects we work on for children and young people you work with or if you are a Child Friendly Leeds ambassador and would like to work in partnership with us on initiatives like this, please do get in touch. Our email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org