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Return of heralded WEX programme a 'pizza' cake

The long-running Bears WEX (Work Experience) programme returned with a bang in 2022 with greater sustainability and arguably impact than ever before!

A three-way partnership between Bristol Bears Community Foundation, Warmley Park School and the St Monica Trust, and generously supported by grant giving organisation The Ciao Foundation, the programme reignited in March 2022 to continue to support young adults with special educational needs prepare for life beyond school.

Kelesie, a graduating student from Warmley Park School had been working at B Block pizzeria in Keynsham once a week as part of this collaborative piece, where she recently completed her final shift. After a nervous start to her placement, Kelesie is now ready to take on whole new challenges thanks to her new-found confidence, as she continues her education beyond Sixth Form in September at her new college in Stroud, travelling to and from Bristol each day by bus.

“Working at B Block is fun. I like making pizzas best. I like making coffee but not drinking it. The residents are nice. I’d like to come back to drink squash and have a pizza. Thank you so much for having me.”

St Monica Trust Front of House Supervisor, Courtney reminds Kelesie how far she’s come since she first arrived at B Block five months ago. Nervous, shy and worried about being around too many people, now she independently sets the restaurant in Somer Dining for lunchtime service, packs deliveries away, rotates stock and serve lunch to the residents from The Chocolate Quarter retirement village.

“The residents and customers love her!” Courtney commented “They have seen how she’s gone from standing at the bar looking worried when she first started, to confidently taking their orders and serving them their meals and drinks…on behalf of everyone at B Block and Somer Dining we’d like to wish her ‘good luck’. Once she’s there and she gets into a routine, we know she’ll enjoy herself and fit right in – just as she did at B Block.”

WEX Support Assistant, Claire Tavender-King added “The work experience programme is all about building confidence, independence and social skills to prepare pupils for leaving school, possibly having a job or, like Kelesie, going to college.”

“Kelesie is a very able young person, but is hindered by being shy and withdrawn. Since coming to B Block it’s amazing to see how she’s gained so much independence and confidence. All of the staff at B Block have made us feel very welcome. Nothing has been too much trouble and they’ve all supported Kelesie in every way possible. It’s been an amazing experience!”

To find out more about the Foundation’s WEX (Work Experience) programme contact: darmstrong@bristolbearsrugby.com


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