Have you noticed the small gift shop on the Upper Mall of Centre Court Shopping Centre next to Wimbledon Station? It’s open mostly between 10am and 4pm Tuesday to Saturday, but over the last few months a little bit more?
We are Fayre & Square Wimbledon, a community project run by volunteers. We are a small independent project partly self-funded by renting space out to small local businesses and craftspeople, who also contribute a commission and volunteering time. The perfect place to get hold of unique handmade items made by local artists, some of which can be personalised! It is an Aladdin’s cave of original cards, pottery, crocheted items, hand painted, sewn or decoupaged gifts. The baby gifts are incredibly popular, as are the original glass art and hand poured soya candles.
Our employability scheme aims to help individuals with any perceived barriers to employment, including physical disabilities or learning difficulties, mental health challenges, or language and confidence issues. You may find our till work is a bit slow, but please be patient with us. Trainees are referred by colleges, the job centre, local council services or other charity organisations and are invited to join an 8 to 12-week course with us which is tailored to each person according to their needs and abilities.
The best way to explain what we do is by sharing some of our past trainees’ stories…
D was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and had dropped out of education. D had no work experience and had not socialised for a very long time. Although accompanied by a support worker and parent for the introduction interview, D was very nervous. However, we quickly realised D had strong administrative and IT skills. D was able to use the till independently after week one and after a few weeks was allowed to cash up at the end of the day. As D’s confidence grew, D chatted to us about planning trips and activities with family and friends. By the end of the training D was attending job interviews independently. D went on to secure employment supporting people with disabilities with travel training.
N uses microphones connected to a hearing aid and can lip read to some extent. As a child with a disability, N’s parents had decided to protect N and home school. This meant that N had very little experience dealing with people outside the family. However, N accepted the challenge of various new tasks and quickly started to smile and interact with everyone, including customers. N went on to attend job fairs without our support and sent us a very touching thank you letter explaining how the experience at Fayre & Square changed everything.
P came to us after a negative experience in the catering industry. P had had anger management issues but understood that the environment had been inappropriate for someone with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. P responded well to clear concise instructions for operating the till and demonstrated excellent customer service skills. By the end of training P was able to induct new trainees, and even gave a presentation on behalf of Fayre & Square at a business breakfast organised by one of our corporate supporters. Shortly after this P secured a work placement with a major retailer.
Please do come and visit and we will be happy to help you find the perfect gift. By shopping with us, you are helping local crafts people, as well as those who need our support in securing a more independent future.
Written by Kumiko Brocklebank