WESC gives visually impaired Harry, 20, employment skills - and it’s fun!

WESC intern Harry Roberts and manager Sharon Green

WESC intern Harry Roberts and manager Sharon Green - Credit: Archant

Working at charity shop and social enterprise gives visually impaired young people hands-on work experience – and has one intern aspiring to manage a store of his own.

Harry Roberts has been visually impaired since birth and is registered blind.

He studied at the WESC school in Exeter from the age of nine.

Now 20, he works with manager Sharon Green in the foundation’s Sidmouth shop, as well as running the eBay store and managing a mobile phone app.

“It’s offering me real employment skills and it’s really fun,” said the Cullompton resident, who is also a DJ on the school’s radio station, VI Radio.

“I really enjoy it – I’ve not done this sort of thing before.

“I’m partially sighted so it probably makes me slower to do tasks than the average person, but I’m aiming to run a store. I do a lot of things here I probably wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”

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Sharon said: “I use a lot of hands-on techniques to teach them.

“If I saw Harry struggling I’d make him use his hands. He doesn’t use his hands enough.”

She explained that Harry checks donations with his other senses and they work together as a team.

“He’s got a lot of responsibilities and there are so many things he’s doing on his own initiative,” added Sharon.

“It’s not an impossible task.”

And Harry is not alone.

WESC students regularly visit the High Street shop for work experience.

It is one of the charity’s four retail outlets in Devon, each with its own opportunities.

They also pose different challenges for the blind, but WESC is working to counter them – it pioneered a clear plastic Braille screen for the till, so it can be used interchangeably by visually impaired and sighted people.

And if youngsters do not want retail experience, WESC has also teamed up with the Dartmoor Pony Heritage Trust, the Met Office, Devon in Sight, Cancer UK and the Dawlish Garden Trust.