A SHOP run by students with special educational needs is set to close its doors for good after a school trust called time on the venture due to money issues - prompting residents to come together in a bid to save the ‘lifeline’ venue.
The Makery, on Barugh Green Road in Barugh Green, officially opened its doors to the public almost a decade ago - and those who use it have described it as a ‘lifeline’.
Young adults with special needs have been using the store as a route to get work experience in a way they perhaps might not have been able to otherwise.
Earlier this month, the public were made aware that the shop would close its doors on August 25 for good - prompting its users to come together in a bid to save it.
The Wellspring Trust, which has Greenacre School under its wing, has backed the school board’s decision to close the site - leaving locals furious at the outcome.
It’s prompted Andrea Chappell, 43, of Higham, to start campaigning against the closure.
She told the Chronicle: “They’re saying it’s down to rising costs but the shop manager, Gemma Thickett, has so many ideas.
“It’s just a lifeline - I go every week with my mum who has dementia.
“The whole reason that it was set up was for the kids to gain some work experience - so why has the funding been cut?”
Earlier this week, Andrea sent a letter to the Wellspring Trust accompanied with the views of dozens of other local residents who want to keep the shop open.
But it doesn’t seem like it will be enough.
“If it’s down to money then we’d happily pay more for the service,” she added.
“I don’t think they understand how much this means to people.
“We’ve has a lot of people come forward and say that they don’t want it to close.
“I’ve only got a few days left to help - it’s a community hub and we can’t lose it but there’s just no support.
“It shouldn’t be all about the money - it should be about those children being able to get some valuable experience, that’s why it was created in the first place.”
Wellspring’s chief executive Mark Wilson has said the trust are frustrated that The Makery is set to close its doors - but added that it wouldn’t be the case if people actually went.
He told the Chronicle: “The trust shares the same view as all the people who have contacted the Chronicle about The Makery.
"We have been very proud of it and our association with it through Greenacre School and, because of it, the opportunities afforded to Greenacre students.
“The governing body at Greenacre share the same view.
“The Makery has been an innovative and distinctive part of the offer for some students and was beloved by some of its customers.
“Unfortunately, actual customer use of The Makery has been very low for a considerable time.
“The Greenacre governing body reached a position whereby they felt no longer able to subsidise The Makery to the extent now required.
“Such decisions are taken at school governing body level.
“The trust fully supports the body’s decision.”
Plans are now well underway to offer the students who were using The Makery for work experience a chance on-site at the school - though it’s unlikely they would ever be dealing with anyone other than students and staff.
“We are all very sad to see The Makery go and regret that the community at large were not able to support it more with actual footfall through the door,” Mark added.
“The chief purpose of The Makery was always to help pupils gain employability skills as part of the Greenacre curriculum.
“The school has exciting plans to enhance this area for the students, who will now support the cafe located on the main Greenacre school site.”