22/08/2011 - Permalink

Shrewsbury Flower Show success for adults with learning disabilities team

Related topics: Community / Health / Leisure and culture

The Me-Market stall at Shrewsbury Flower Show

Developing businesses being set up by adults with learning disabilities had a prime pitch at this year’s Shrewsbury Flower Show, as part of the council’s sponsorship of the event.

Shropshire Council has been one of the sponsors of the event over the past two years, and a stand at the show is part of the sponsorship package.  The stand has been used by the adults with learning disabilities team both in 2010 and 2011, with this year’s stall called the Me-Market (Micro Enterprise Market).

There are 13 day opportunity centres across Shropshire supporting people with learning disabilities to develop small businesses, which offer people the opportunity to move forward into self-employment or gain skills to help them get a job in the future.

The Me-Market offered these individuals a route to market, as they would not be able to make enough products to have their own stall.  People with learning disabilities were supported to serve on the stall and engage people in talking about their micro enterprise.

Products included jewellery, knitwear, pegs, textiles, cards, wooden products, blackboards, beauty products, clocks, and bags. There were also some products from Greenacres Farm (a council-run service that supports people with learning disabilities to develop farming skills), including jams, eggs, pickles and chutneys.

Natalie Hawkins, senior learning disabilities employment officer at Shropshire Council, said:

“The Flower Show was hugely successful with a lot of people coming in to the stall to talk about the skills of people with learning disabilities.  We were really busy and all of the micro enterprises made a sale.”

The council investment of sponsoring the show – about £15,000 in 2010 and £13,000 this year – brought a variety of benefits for the people involved and the county as a whole.

Council leader, Keith Barrow, said:

“We have a budget set aside for supporting local tourism and enterprise, and decided to put some of that towards sponsoring the Flower Show over the past two years.  I’m keen to support the show because it’s important to encourage local tourism – especially during these difficult economic times.  The organising committee is a charity, which itself has donated over £300,000 to good causes over the past couple of years, and that couldn’t happen without the support of sponsors.

“The show also gives us a valuable opportunity to talk with senior representatives from other public services and local businesses, which is extremely helpful in securing future jobs and investment in the Shropshire economy.  We used the opportunity of having a table in the sponsor’s marquee to hold a business lunch so we could do exactly that, which was very useful.”

Peter Road-Night, secretary of the Shropshire Horticultural Society, which runs the Flower Show, added:

“We appreciate and are thankful for the support from all sponsors, which allows us to continue to help a variety of local charities.  These have recently included St Chad’s Church, Oswestry Orthopaedic Hospital, Shrewsbury Dial a Ride and the British Red Cross (Shropshire) – to name but a few.”