A class of Shrewsbury Colleges Group Painting & Decorating students have received the work experience opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to completely redecorate a derelict pub in the town centre and help out a local homeless charity in the process.
The former Rock & Fountain pub on Castle Foregate has been bought by Shrewsbury Ark as their new base of operations. The charity supports homeless people and other vulnerable adults through a drop-in day centre that provides essentials and resources (like hot meals, shower facilities and Internet access) to anyone in the community who needs them.
Emily Bell, Chair of Shrewsbury Ark, explained how much of a difference the spacious new building will make: "Our new premises will provide a safe and comfortable space for those who need to use our day centre facilities but also a welcoming environment for anyone looking for support with addiction, poverty, mental health issues or basic loneliness.”
She continued: “The increased office space means we can work in partnership with other charities and organisations to provide advice, healthcare and practical support to those in our community who are struggling.”
The project has been a huge undertaking for the charity since the building needed fully renovating. SCG has already worked with Shrewsbury Ark in the past through our Health & Social Care department, so the charity reached out to the college’s work experience coordinators looking for volunteer painters to help take on this difficult task.
The project was a brilliant opportunity for the Painting & Decorating department. The building is so big that teacher Jose Jarrett has been able to take her whole class into town to work on it together and the renovation fits perfectly with what the Level 1 students are currently covering on their course.
This means that they’ve been able to cover the theory in class every week and then head out to actually put it into practice on a real building that comes complete with all the challenges that can’t be replicated in the classroom: decades of old wallpaper, dimly lit rooms, working on-site in the winter weather.
Level 1 Painting & Decorating student Jack Lewis, 18, painting the former bar area of the pub.
This opportunity to work in a professional environment has meant a lot to the students, who have become livelier and more engaged in their course because of it. “I can see the difference in the way they are focused, their enthusiasm,” Jose said. “They have been a credit to the college.”
Chloe Powell, 17, described her experience working on-site as “amazing.” The chance to actually get to try out the job she wants to do in the future has been invaluable to her: “I love it. I enjoy coming out of college. It’s great knowing what I want to do in the future and knowing that I definitely want to do it now. I wasn’t sure before doing this work experience. I wouldn’t have known without getting to do an actual job.”
The fact that the students are using their skills to contribute to charity is important to them and has added to how passionate they are about the project. “You don’t get any reward,” Chloe said. “It’s the pride that you did that.”
Others involved in the project had glowing praise for the class. Emily Bell thanked them on behalf of Shrewsbury Ark, saying: “We are so grateful to the students who have come in to help ready the premises for moving in. As a charity, every penny counts, and such a large building requires a lot of decorating! The students have done a fantastic job, working hard and to a very professional standard. We cannot thank them and their instructors enough for all the work they have put in on our behalf."