Our Co-operative (Ad)Venture programme has been running in numerous locations across the UK since 2018. The course is tailored towards young people with learning difficulties, disabilities and autism, and is designed to help equip learners with the skills needed to transition between compulsory education and further education, training, and employment. (Ad)Venture builds confidence, experience and interpersonal skills through a focus on co-operative practice, behaviours and a holistic approach to the development of our beneficiaries.

Our spring 2022 Manchester-based (Ad)Venture programme, in partnership with Melland High School, wrapped up in May and we spoke to some of its participants to find out what they thought about taking part.

Before the Co-operative (Ad)Venture, I was excited and looking forward to learning new things

This is a quote from Renee, a 19-year old, Year 14 student at Melland High School.

Five happy participants from the Manchester Mellend High School Cooperative AdVenture May 2022 project

Like all young people, Renee is full of potential. She enjoys going to her local youth clubs and taking part in creative activities such as drawing and writing stories. However, statistically, Renee and other young people with learning difficulties, disabilities and autism are much more likely to experience loneliness and isolation, and less likely to find employment after leaving school. Co-operative (Ad)Venture seeks to address this.

With co-operative values and practices at the heart of the 11-week programme, learners take part in a series of engaging activities including working together to identify issues in their local community, setting up their own co-operative, and wherever possible attending work experience at a local co-operative or ethically driven employer.

Renee told us: "This programme helped me through my employability, communication, teamwork, business and enterprise skills. I am more confident and I also feel like I've learnt so much. I'm hoping to get myself a part-time job in youth work or childcare."

Tackling social issues

The social issue that the spring 2022 Manchester Co-operative (Ad)Venture group chose to address as part of their learning was youth homelessness. Working together, the group produced a magazine which was sold to help raise awareness and much needed funds for youth homeless charity, Centrepoint.

Research by Centrepoint highlights that there are around 122,000 young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the UK.

When asked what his favourite part of the (Ad)Venture programme was, 18-year old Jack told us: "Selling the magazine, because the last bit is achieving the goal of actually doing it and making it known you've achieved something."

A copy of the magazine produced by Manchester Mellend Adventure participants

Jack went on to tell us about the impact (Ad)Venture has had on him:

The co-op has helped me because before I was quiet and wasn't confident of speaking out. But when it came to the co-op I spoke up more and felt it would be okay. In the co-op we speak our minds, as long as we take turns, we can say what we want.

Jack, Renee and all the other Co-operative (Ad)Venture Manchester participants will receive an ASDAN Award in enterprise and more importantly have helped make the world a little bit better, through co-operation.

We're proud that our Co-operative (Ad)Venture programme helps young learners around the country to achieve their potential. Can you imagine the possibilities if all young people had the opportunity to grow through co-operation?

Get in touch if you'd like to speak to us about how we could help young people in your area, or if you'd like to donate to the College to help fund a project.

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