STAFF at a Taunton shop nestled in the depths of the independent quarter are working tirelessly to help young people who “may not have had the easiest start”.

Bold & Brave, located at 14 Riverside Place, gives people over the age of 16 the chance to gain employability skills and build their confidence in a safe, nurturing environment.

The shop opened in 2021 and is full of locally sourced products and items created by the young people who volunteer and work there.

This includes artwork by the talented Conner, who used to work at the store, depicting likenesses of Harry Potter, Thor, Spiderman and other characters.

Somerset County Gazette: The shop is located in the independent quarter. The shop is located in the independent quarter. (Image: NQ staff)

Young entrepreneurs take around 70 per cent of the revenue made from the sale of their handmade products.

The business also sells pre-loved books, everyday items, toiletries and more.

Between October 2021 and September 2023, a total of 40 entrepreneurs were able to sell their products at the shop, while 50 young people who were not in education, employment or training were hosted on work experience.

Somerset County Gazette: Artwork by former shop volunteers.Artwork by former shop volunteers. (Image: NQ staff)

And many young people find working at the store transformative.

Beth Yetton, a former shop volunteer, was recognised for overcoming personal barriers in the 2023 Pride of Somerset Youth Awards.

A Bold & Brave store worker explained how Beth had come “a long way” during her time there.

The charity that runs the shop, called Young Somerset, also opened a café in the town's library last June.

Young people start on an Enterprise programme, where they complete eight weeks of work in both the shop and café. 

From there, they can explore voluntary work, paid employment, or apprenticeship opportunities.

Somerset County Gazette: The shop sells a wide range of items.The shop sells a wide range of items. (Image: NQ staff)

Enterprise manager Mark Burgess, who plays a crucial role in ensuring the two businesses thrive, said the café is a busier environment that encourages young people to work together.

He said: “We give young people a chance who may not have had the easiest start in life; we employ young people from a range of backgrounds.

“We let them take the lead.

“At the café, the young people also learn what running a business is like."

Somerset County Gazette: The café can be found in Taunton Library. The café can be found in Taunton Library. (Image: NQ staff)

As many of their customers are older, Bold & Brave's young workers are able to gain social mobility skills and have meaningful conversations with people they might not otherwise have the chance to talk to.

And Mark explained that helping young people gives him a sense of job satisfaction. 

He said: “People know we aren't in it for the money.

“If you can do something you enjoy, that's even better.”

Now, Young Somerset is working to connect with businesses in Taunton and beyond, such as The Hideout pub, to ease young people into the world of work.