As many of you know, we celebrated our 10 year anniversary at the beginning of October.
After 10 years we really wanted to make it a celebration to remember. It was our biggest Nickels party yet with around 220 guests, made up of trainees, parents and carers, and people who we have worked with and who have supported us over the years.
As with every Nickels award night we took the time to celebrate all our trainees and their achievements over the past year, with awards going to those who we felt had achieved the most on their own personal journey.
A huge congratulations to our awarded trainees:
Commended: Sam Darby, Peter Harman, Paul Farnham
Highly commended: Richard Freedman, Ellie Cooper, Marion Turner
Our Trainee of the year … drum roll … was Jordan Mackay and he received our Flori Nicola award. Jordan has been with Nickel for almost 2 years and what a journey it has been. When he first started at Nickel he was shy and quiet. Fast forward two years and he has found his confidence and is flourishing both in the kitchen (making jams and chutneys) and also in our dance sessions. His kind and caring personality shines through and he brings joy to every session he attends.
The Nickel’s was also a chance to reflect on what we have achieved over the past 10 years. We have changed considerably since Nick Walsh and Elena Nicola got the keys to their first shop on Beynon Road on day one. We could write a book about the ups and downs of starting and growing a community interest organisation! That said the ethos, vision and passion from that first day is still 100% at the forefront of everything we do.
Ten years in and we have grown from delivering small scale upcycling sessions to a few trainees in the basement of our shop to now supporting one hundred adults with learning disabilities across six London boroughs. Over the years we have experimented with lots of different sessions, with varying degrees of success.. We are now proud to offer ten different sessions ranging from upcycling and food production to retail experience and dance, with new ideas for sessions constantly being explored.
One of our key aims is to provide a platform for employment skills and opportunities for our trainees. We are proud to say that over 20% of our workforce is made up of someone with a learning disability. What's more, through our new job coach scheme two of our trainees have recently secured paid employment in local businesses.
What began with just Nick and Elena has now grown to a strong diverse and inclusive team of nearly thirty support staff, spread across two branches after opening our 2nd branch in Cheam earlier this year, with new roles needed regularly filling as we continue to grow.
The awards was a night of emotional speeches and a chance to recognise and thank those who have supported our vision, helping us to achieve our dreams. The trainees also took a moment to thank Nick and Elena for all their work over the years, showering them with 15 bunches of flowers brought up in turn by various trainees.
Of course a Nickel party is never complete without a good dance, so after the speeches we all took to the dancefloor and showed our best moves. I think it's fair to say a great night was had by all!
So when reaching such a big milestone, the question arises, what next? Well we are constantly working to develop our service for our trainees and extend our offering to our current trainees as well as create more opportunities for other adults with learning disabilities. We are excited to relaunch our shop in a few months and offer lots more opportunities for our trainees to get involved in the various retail roles within the new concept.