A NEW partnership has been launched helping young adults with special educational needs to develop their confidence and workplace skills.

The RSPB in Weymouth has teamed up with the South West Regional Assessment Centre (SWRAC) to take over the running of the cafe at RSPB Radipole Lake Discovery Centre.

The cafe will provide students with the opportunity to develop their employment, hospitality and customer service skills as part of SWRAC’s Preparing for Adulthood programme.

SWRAC is a specialist independent college that works with young adults with special educational needs and disabilities to help them prepare for adulthood.

Working in partnership with the RSPB gives students the opportunity to boost their skillset and provides a unique opportunity to learn about nature and conservation.

Lesley Gorman, RSPB Visitor Operations Manager, said: "We are very excited about this special partnership with SWRAC. We feel privileged to support the students on this journey to grow their confidence, self-esteem, and work-place skills.

“We also can’t wait to guide them in developing their knowledge of the natural world and supporting them to become RSPB volunteers as part of the placement opportunity.

“All this within the beautiful setting of RSPB Radipole Lake nature reserve, an unlikely home to some stunning wildlife right in the heart of urban Weymouth.”

Adrian Gunner, Managing Director for SWRAC, said: “We are delighted with our partnership with the RSPB to run the café facility within the RSPB Discovery Centre at Radipole.

“It provides us with the ability to offer real-life work experience for our students, all of whom have special educational needs and disabilities.

“The students love being associated with an organisation such as the RSPB, and the team have been so welcoming and enthusiastic to what we are trying to achieve. Our special thanks go to Lesley Gorman and Peter Robertson who have shared our vision and been so supportive.

“The cafe is slowly building up the offer but currently serves hot drinks (we have an amazing coffee machine which also serves the most delicious hot chocolate), cakes, cream teas and light snacks. Toasted tea cakes and toast and marmalade seem to be very popular items. The patio at the RSPB Discovery Centre is such a lovely area to enjoy a morning coffee too.”