Yorkie Radio

Pop-up craft store to showcase learning disability artists’ work

Art, furniture and crafts made by local artists with learning disabilities have gone on sale at a pop-up shop on Piccadilly.

The Blueberry Academy is a York-based organisation that aims to change this by working with local people with learning disabilities to support them in finding meaningful employment in and around York.

Their latest venture is a pop-up shop that sells products made by local artists with learning disabilities, with a focus on challenging perceptions of employing people with learning disabilities. The academy also works to furnish their employees with skills for everyday life and provides them with retail experience, whilst enhancing communication and interpersonal skills.

In the UK, there is a significant number of people with learning disabilities that are unemployed.

Valuing Employment Now say that 65% of people with learning disabilities in the UK would like to find paid work, but do not feel that they are able.

The shop recently relocated from Monkgate as it was receiving increasing custom, so moved to a larger and more central location to further boost their reception.

Job coach at the academy Alan Ritson-Farr provides specialist guidance to trainees.

He encourages and supports his colleagues when accessing the local community, enabling them to become recognised in society as talented creators.

Alan also spoke ‘hang-ups’ people with learning disabilities can experience regarding their own condition, and how he works with them to become empowered and fight for equality.

Next week the shop will hosting a Christmas event to encourage the community to engage with their work and continue to change preconceived ideas of people with learning disabilities.

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