The Cockleshell Workshop, a project of Berith and Camphill Partnership, gives people practical experience in a retail environment and a chance to work towards a recognised qualification. It works so well that within their first year most achieve their level 1 NVQ in Retail with many going on to do an NVQ in Customer Service as well.
For Kerry, there are plenty of reasons for customers to stop by: 'we have a gift area, a paint-your-own pottery area … and there's many other things like making your own bead necklaces or bracelets.' The gift area is ethically and community minded too: 'it's all Fairtrade … and we have pottery and plates from Taurus', she says.
Plus there's a café. ‘We do toasted teacakes … and cheese toasties and things like that’, says Garry.
'We do get some interesting customers'
Although there are no fixed jobs at the workshop, everyone's got their favourite. Garry's is 'glazing the pots and making sure they're all wiped and putting them in the kiln for firing.'
Karen's is working on the till. 'I get to meet the customers and get to know about the till and how it works', she explains. 'We do get some interesting customers who come in and we get lots of parties of people with learning disabilities and young children.'
'We had a hen party a few weeks ago. That was quite good,' remembers Garry. And if dealing with a hen party isn’t enough to get an NVQ in Customer Service, we're not sure what is.