A NEW shop to help young people boost their employability and life skills is opening on Saturday (October 9) in Taunton.

The social enterprise at 14 Riverside Place, called Bold & Brave, is the result of collaboration between Young Somerset and sen.se - Special Educational Needs.Somerset Expertise, a partnership between special schools and specialist provision in Somerset. It includes ten schools, specialist provision within a primary school and supportive providers.

The idea for Bold & Brave began in 2019 with a series of pop-up shops in Somerset selling quality goods designed and produced by learners from Somerset’s special schools.

Following the success of the pop-up shops and witnessing the positive impacts the project had on the young people and the local community, Young Somerset decided to create a permanent shop in partnership with sen.se.

Young people will be offered the opportunity to gain accredited training as part of a work placement programme, receiving mentoring and job coaching.

Many of the products on sale have been researched, planned, designed and made by young people from Somerset.

Vulnerable young people will be in visible roles that contribute to community cohesion.

The new store will be open 9.30am to 4.30pm Tuesday to Saturday, selling a range of homeware, accessories, and garden items.

The shop name was inspired by Lewis, one of the young people who worked in a former sen.se and Young Somerset Christmas pop-up shop. He came up with the name as he felt working in the pop-up shop made him feel “bold and brave”.

Nik Harwood, Young Somerset chief executive, said: “It is really exciting to see Bold & Brave open as a permanent venture. A lot of hard work has gone into setting up the shop and we can’t wait to welcome people in to see what the project is all about.

“Although the concept behind the permanent Bold & Brave shop is based on the earlier success of our pop-up shop model, we expect opportunities connected to this new enterprise to be available to young people more broadly, including linking with FE colleges and young people who are home-educated.

"We also want the shop to act as a community hub with space for the young people to host workshops, create products, and meet with community partners.”

Julie Walker, sen.se executive officer, said: “This is an exciting and innovative project which puts young people first and gives them a great opportunity to gain valuable experience in a professional working environment.”

Cllr Frances Nicholson, Somerset County Council lead member for children’s services, said: “I am so pleased that the successful pop-up shops have led to the opening of a permanent shop.

"Many more young people will now have a real opportunity to be ‘Bold & Brave’ while they learn new skills.”