Fayre & Square is a community shop on the Upper Mall in Centre Court Shopping Centre, Wimbledon. Run by staff and volunteers of MVSC (Merton Voluntary Service Council), Fayre & Square was born from the idea of supporting young people into employment. It provides supported retail skills and training placements for young adults with Learning Disabilities, mental health issues and other significant barriers to employment and a platform for local independent artisans to showcase their hand made products to the public.
Since the shop opened in 2013, over 80 young people have completed 8-week training placements at Fayre & Square. Learners develop skills and gain experience in a wide range of areas (customer service, till, pricing, stock taking etc), with much of the training being transferable to other areas of work.
After completing the training placement, our Learners progress either into paid employment or work experience placements (eg. Lush, Debenhams, WH Smith, Kiss Me Hardy, Marks and Spencer), mainstream education/training courses, or further volunteering.
Read about some of our Learners’ stories:
M has Autism and has been job searching very diligently for some time. Having completed his 8 week placement with Fayre & Square, he went on to gain paid employment with Odeon Epsom and WH Smith Wimbledon. He volunteered at WH Smith in Worcester Park for over 2 years, to learn about the role. He is overjoyed finally to be a paid employee at a branch in Wimbledon and is very happy there. In his spare time M also volunteers at Copperfield’s bookshop.
A had been volunteering for his local football club as a steward for some time; he really enjoyed it but was keen to build his skills and get paid employment elsewhere. A is a confident communicator but was worried about employers being put off by the fact he has a Learning Disability. A is a very fast learner and was able to operate the till, cash up for the day and assist with banking within a few weeks. His confidence had grown so much that he decided to stay on as a support volunteer, to support and empower others’ with disabilities. Within a few months, A was offered part time employment with Specsavers.
T was very nervous when he first came to Fayre & Square. He had had a tough time after being diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder, the symptoms had grown more intense as he got older and he felt like people didn’t understand him. T was pleasantly surprised by his ability to pick up new skills quickly during his training and his ability to communicate with customers and help with their queries. He particularly enjoyed supporting his fellow Learner, who had a Learning Disability; they worked really effectively together. T secured full time employment before the end of his 8 week placement as a travel trainer for people with disabilities. He has been in post for over a year and is thoroughly enjoying it.
Support for Fayre & Square
We are very grateful for the amazing support that we receive from our partners in the Wimbledon business community, including expert advice and help from Love Wimbledon. Hugely valuable in-kind support comes from Centre Court Shopping Centre (approximately £60,000 rent and service charges per annum since 2013), who provide our retail unit on the Upper Mall. Also, Retail IT (winner of the Extra Mile Award, Merton Business Awards 2017), who provide us with a state-of- the-art EPoS system and ongoing technical support (value £7,000 since 2016).
In addition, Ely’s has generously provided props for window displays and offered free window-dressing training and Bombshell Marketing gave us great exposure by including us in their Christmas Stars video. Parish Players, a local amateur dramatics society have also donated an incredible £1,000 to Fayre & Square from their Christmas pantomime this year.
We are always looking for exciting next step placements for our learners and have received great support from local businesses such as Lush, Marks and Spencer and Debenhams.
It costs us approximately £1500 to support a Learner at Fayre & Square (training and specialist support from expert staff, shop running costs, stationery, volunteer expenses).
If you would like to get involved in sponsoring a Learner/Learners, or would be able to provide work experience placements after they leave Fayre & Square, do please get in touch – we would love to hear from you!
Contact Sarah Hannigan, Head of Volunteering at email@example.com