Highbury College students are awarded for hard work on day centre for disabled people

The Highbury College team at a celebration event at the Cunard offices in Southampton after finishing their project, with some deck chairs that they helped to restore and paint
The Highbury College team at a celebration event at the Cunard offices in Southampton after finishing their project, with some deck chairs that they helped to restore and paint

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COLLEGE students have won a Prince’s Trust award for their community work.

Team members Harry Beard, Nathan Harper, Zara Collins, Joe Gallagher, Steven Robinson, Jason Toon and Hannah Cowdrey, from Highbury College, have been given the Community Impact Award for London and the south east, which ‘recognises the contribution young people make to their local community’.

Team 107 took part in the 12-week long Prince’s Trust Team programme at the college and are the first group with learning difficulties to do so.

The team redecorated Portsmouth Day Services, a day service for adults with disabilities.

They raised £250 through their activities, which included a five-mile sponsored walk, a five-hour sponsored silence and a cake sale, and used this to buy tools and materials before the physical work began.

‘We improved the facilities for the service users and saved the staff a lot of work, which is a good thing because it means that they will get more time with the people that matter – the service users,’ said team member Steven Robinson.

‘We liked the idea of helping Portsmouth Day Service Centre because we could all relate to it,’ added Nathan Harper, 20.

‘We started by removing the old IT equipment and then redecorated the room, adding some musical quotes and pictures to make it look extra special. Then we set up the new equipment ready for people to play.

‘The garden work was hard: there was a lot of rubbish and brambles to clear, but by the time we’d finished, and planted new flowers and repainted the shed and picnic benches, it looked brilliant.

‘It was two weeks of hard work, but it was worth it because the people at the centre love it.’

The garden is now maintained by volunteers, and, along with the music room, is regularly enjoyed by the centre’s users, many of whom have become quite green-fingered thanks to the centre’s new gardening club.

The Team programme is designed to help members get back into employment, education or training through improving teamwork and building self-esteem. It has been part of the Prince’s Trust for more than 25 years and has been running out of Portsmouth, through Highbury College, since September 1998.

Andy Greensmith was their team leader, and said: ‘Every young person in the group had a form of learning difficulty or disability; we had young people with cerebral palsy, autism, learning difficulties, anxiety, and mobility issues.

‘I found their determination to complete this course incredible.’

They also worked with assistant team leader Christopher Boyd, who was seconded from the British Army, and Trish Broom from the Prince’s Trust.

Dayne Turbitt, the senior vice president of UK&I Enterprise at Dell EMC, who fund the awards said: ‘What Team 107 has collectively achieved is phenomenal and the London and south east Community Impact Award is truly deserved.

‘The team work they demonstrated and the results they achieved are brilliant. We hope that the skills they have learnt will set them on a path to many more successes.’

The awards event is in central London, at 6pm tomorrow.