Harford Manor School celebrates first anniversary of charity shop

Students and staff at a city school are celebrating a successful year of selling in their very own charity shop.

Harford Manor School, in Ipswich Road, teaches children with special educational needs and the school's Close Links charity shop in St John's Close, Lakenham, was set up to help students boost their social skills and give them real life work-experience.

As the shop marked its first anniversary yesterday with cake and balloons, headteacher Paul Eteson said he was delighted with the shop's success.

He said it was the result of a lot of hard work from the Friends association, parents, students and staff.

'The shop is all about our students having a place in the community and it has been a huge success,' he said.

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'We want our students to be seen as active citizens and having a part to play in society.

'We want them and the wider public to see that having a disability does not mean that you can not do things, and the shop demonstrates that.'

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About 50 of the students at the school have been involved in the shop far - either by working in the shop itself or taking part in behind the scenes activities like sorting the donated bric-a-brac or clothes.

Mr Eteson said: 'The students get so much out of working in the shop. It provides them with an opportunity to see the bigger, wider world. They serve real customers and they can practice their communication skills.

'The next step for us is we are looking to expand. We are looking to find a bigger property.

'We are really delighted by how this year has gone.'

Jacob Bowles, 16, said he really enjoyed working in the shop, and some of things he liked doing include keeping it tidy, working on the till, and doing the pricing up.

Paige Quantrell, 18, said: 'It is lots of fun because there are so many customers.

'I like greeting people when they come in the shop and working on the till.'

Jacob Johnson, 14, said: 'I like working on the till and dealing with the money. It is nice seeing the customers.

'I also wash the windows, put things on the shelves and work in the kitchen.'

The Friends of Harford Manor School kick-started the shop project last year when they raised �4,000 to rent the shop, and set about decorating and stocking the shop with the help of parents, pupils and staff.

The Friends association has been honoured with a national award for the project - at the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations' Gold Star Awards 2011 the Friends association was the national winner of the local community category.

• Is your school celebrating a special anniversary? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email emma.knights@archant.co.uk

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