The Galleries Shop & Cafe is proud to offer great opportunities for our young people. Young people in rural areas have limited access to transport and don’t find it easy to obtain part-time work to earn extra pocket money, to gain practical work experience, or simply to volunteer. The Galleries Shop & Cafe does all of those things!
Many of the youngsters in our two villages take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme. The scheme’s Bronze and Silver Awards require some volunteering, and we have had almost 30 youngsters sign up with us for the ten required volunteer sessions. They typically happen on the weekend when there is no school – and when regular volunteers are often thin on the ground. These youngsters are generally very quick on the uptake – mastering the till, working out how to use the price gun, finding gaps on the shelves to refill – and sometimes tackling tasks the older generation find hard – eg programming telephone numbers into our telephones and even sometimes tackling and solving computer problems for us.
Some of the DoE Award candidates stay on beyond their prescribed number of sessions – because they realise the benefit of the practical experience they gain and what it does to enhance their university applications; or simply because they have caught the volunteering bug and enjoy helping to make our great community enterprise run.
Some are so capable and dedicated that we end up employing them for a certain number of hours on the weekend. Alas this is always relatively short-term because soon they need to concentrate on their final exams or it’s time to go off to university.
We also occasionally receive applications from youngsters with special needs who have particular difficulty finding opportunities for work experience. As we are a community enterprise and all know each other well, we can give them the opportunities they need. We discuss their circumstances with their school or social worker and find a way to give them a meaningful work experience which is also useful for the shop.
We feel that a period of practical experience in our shop and or café should almost be a “rite of passage” for our youngsters. It used to be the pub which offered these opportunities; now it is only the Galleries Shop & Café, and we take our responsibility very seriously!
We have also managed to attract “interns” from as far afield as Le Havre Business school! For two summers running we have had young students work in our shop – filling in for staff but also doing a practical project useful both to us and for their degree work.
And finally, we offer apprentice positions. Our current cafe apprentice Cheyenne is a very good example for this: she hopes to qualify for a higher-level catering qualification. Her training is supervised by City of Bath College who visit regularly and check on progress. Meanwhile, Cheyenne is already a very useful member of staff even after a short time with us, so the arrangement is perfect for both sides.