Celebrating the efforts of staff and students, Dearne Valley College officially opened its brand-new public-facing retail outlet, named ‘The College Cooperative’. The prestigious ceremony included an official ribbon cutting by local MP John Healey, with attendance of many of the staff and students involved in the collaborative efforts to get the site ready for public use.
The College Cooperative marks a new enterprising venture for the College focussed on selling products made by the local community for the local community. Available for purchase are items handmade by College students, as well as businesses and suppliers local to the college, based in Wath-upon-Dearne.
MP John Healey gave an inspiring speech about how important projects like this are, not just for Colleges but for the communities they serve too.
John said” The College Cooperative is a brilliant project and a way of bringing hands on learning into the college, something that’s been so hard for students during the pandemic.”
“What’s special about it is that all parts of the college have come together to make it happen and with the outlet being local to the community, produce is locally made and locally bought, which in turn boosts the local economy. I think every college in the country should have their own College Cooperative.”
Dearne Valley College Lead Technician and Level 3 Animal Management student Emma Radcliffe joined MP John Healey for the ceremony. Emma’s high level of involvement in setting up The College Cooperative included working with a small group of students to source local products to sell in the shop and liaising with local suppliers.
When asked how the idea for the College Cooperative came about, Emma said: “The concept of the College Cooperative began as a market stall in reception at College; the stall sold sweet bags made by the students, and it’s just grown from there. The market stall was so successful that we were able to raise enough funds to buy our own retail unit located on campus.”
Emma continued: “Growing from a small market stall to a much larger purpose-built unit has been great for us; we’ve been able to expand the product range and get students involved in sourcing local products or products they have made themselves to then sell in the shop – it’s a big community effort. We have also had the Land-based Industries students growing vegetables which has given them that important industry experience of what it’s like to supply produce for a business.
“Everything The College Cooperative sells is grown or handmade by the students and businesses local to the College. Going forward, the shop is going to be run by the students; we’ve got students from all different curriculums within the college that are going to come in allowing them to get some valuable work experience.”
Emma added: “It’s been a lot of hard work, but really fun and rewarding to see the final vision come to life.”
Dearne Valley College Assistant Principal Cheryl Martin was present for the opening ceremony.
Cheryl said: “The official opening of The College Cooperative is a fantastic opportunity to recognise the tremendous efforts of our staff and students who have worked hard to make this day happen.
Via the College Cooperative we are developing the employability skills of our learners by supporting them to create, design and grow produce and goods for sale in the store. We are also selling products which are locally sourced, thereby creating a business that benefits the whole of the Dearne Valley community.”
Dearne Valley College is passionate about supporting the local economy and raising the skill levels in the communities it serves.