Students Help to Staff Community Cafe at Tor View

by Catherine Smyth Media

STUDENTS with learning difficulties will be gaining first-hand work experience thanks to their own innovative community café.

The Garage Café has opened at Tor View Community Special School in Haslingden run by Jackie Dykes, who has experience of running a coffee shop in Bacup Café Berg, and whose son Thomas attends the school.

It is called The Garage because that is just what the building used to be before it was renovated along with other derelict buildings in a £2.5million project on the site off Clod Lane adjacent to the main school.

Jackie said: “My son Thomas is five and spent his first term in mainstream school waiting for a statement.

“He has been at Tor View since January and the difference in him is incredible. He is autistic and has severe learning difficulties.

“When I was pregnant with Thomas he would shake inside the womb and I knew something was not right; the pregnancy was completely different to when I had my three daughters.”

As a newborn baby he would violently shake his Moses basket, but Jackie still had to wait years before Thomas was given a proper diagnosis.

“When he started at Tor View he was non-verbal,” she said. “Now he can talk and is toilet trained. They do amazing things here.”

Although the café had been created it was not up and running and Jackie was asked by the school if she could open it properly because they knew of her background and experience.

Every penny raised in The Garage Café goes back to the school to benefit the pupils.

Older students, aged 16 to 19, will be using the café for apprenticeships with the supervision of Jackie and a teaching assistant. They will be serving customers and taking money and learning how a café runs.

A specially adapted till has been bought using Makaton signs that the students recognise and understand how to cash up orders.

Chairman of governors Peter Sweetmore said: “I am delighted that this is now being used. It is a community asset and we want to encourage the community to come here and see what it is all about.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for Tor View and for our students to get experience of work to give them options for their future once they leave our school.”

Already The Cotton Shed Theatre is using the café for a Sign and Rhyme session on a Tuesday.

Jackie will be contacting local homes for the elderly to see if residents want to come to the café for lunch and will be arranging the school minibus as transport as the facilities are fully accessible.

It is also well used by staff and School Direct trainees who are completing their teacher training qualifications s at Tor View, which is a National Teaching School.

Anyone is welcome to call in and see what the café has to offer or contact Jackie via email

Designer Wins North West Networking Award

by Catherine Smyth Media

DESIGNER Vicky Callan fought off competition from all over the North-West to walk away with a prestigious trophy at the Enterprise Vision Awards.

Vicky has worked in soft furnishings and interior design in Rossendale for more than 20 years and two years ago decided to set up on her own.

At the female business award ceremony, in the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, she won the North West Networker of the Year award, beating seven other contenders who had been nominated by the Pink Link Ladies networking groups.

Vicky, 43, said: “I found out I had been nominated a couple of months ago and then people had to vote. On the night I had no idea if I would win then they announced ‘Vicky Callan Soft Furnishings’.

“I wanted to win and when I did I was really thrilled and pleased. I am so grateful to everyone who voted for me and I have received many messages of congratulations.

“It is so nice to be acknowledged for what I do as networking is a very big part of my business.

“It is important for all Rossendale businesses to work together and so if a client also needs carpets or a fireplace then I have places and tradesmen that I recommend.”

As well as being a regular at the Pink Link Ladies in Blackburn, Vicky also attends Ready to Network and is a member of Rossendale Business League and Valley at Work.

She is also a volunteer mentor with the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce where she is assisting a new business to get off the ground. She is a volunteer on the special events committee at Rossendale Hospice.

Vicky visits clients in their own home to assess what they require and advises them on a range of fabrics and furnishings.

She arranges manufacture using local home-workers and transforms the room before the ‘big reveal’ in front of the client.

“There is nothing more pleasing that seeing the expression on a client’s face when they see their room transformed and they say, ‘It is even better than I could have imagined,'” said Vicky.

The mother of two, from Newchurch, also fits in time to look after her three-year-old grandson Oliver.

Vicky added: “Working for myself has given me the opportunity to arrange my life around what I do. To me, it is not like a job because it is a passion for me.”

And Vicky was not the only successful Rossendale Business in the competition – Klair Lee from Love Umbrellas won the EVA for best online company.

Vicky has also been nominated for a Rossendale Business Award and the presentation will take place at The Riverside in Whitworth on Wednesday November 12.

Vicky can be contacted on

R-Awards 2014: Full List of Nominated Businesses

Here are the 86 businesses that have been nominated for this year’s Rossendale Business Awards. If you’re on this list and you haven’t received an entry form, please contact

We ask that entry forms are returned by midnight on Sunday, October 5thso that the independent judging panel can begin their deliberations the next week.

We hope to announce finalists mid-October. Winners will be announced at the ceremony on November 12th at Riverside Whitworth. Continue reading “R-Awards 2014: Full List of Nominated Businesses”

Lancashire Skills Support for the Workforce

Lancashire Skills Support for the Workforce (LSS) aims to support thousands of businesses and employees across Lancashire who are set to benefit from free workforce training after Lancashire County Council launched a new £5.6 million programme which will be delivered by some of the county’s leading training providers. It aims to support 3,817 employees aged 19 and over who are working in the county’s small and medium sized businesses.

Businesses qualifying for the £5.6m scheme will receive a free training needs analysis. Eligible employees within the business can then access free accredited training from leading providers based on their skills requirements.

Training available through the scheme will include a mix of basic and higher level skills, leadership and management skills, as well as technical and industry specialist qualifications.

Owen McLaughlin, chair of the Lancashire Skills Board and vice chair of the LEP said: “The need for skilled staff is shared by all businesses regardless of their sector. This ambitious programme allows us to help the county’s businesses to address any ‘skills gaps’ that could be holding back their growth potential. “We are committed to ensuring that Lancashire residents are fully equipped to succeed in the workplace and have the skills to help our local businesses to be profitable and competitive on a national and global scale.”

Accrington & Rossendale College are one of the main delivery partners in the programme and would be happy to talk to any business about the funding available and work with you to produce training packages supporting your skills and business growth.

For more information please contact:


T- 01254354424

Rossendale Business Awards: Nominations Update

The following businesses have been nominated for the Valley at Work Award recently:

  • Rossendale Physiotherapy
  • Rossendale Computer Tuition
  • Maguire Gas Services
  • Big Tank Productions
  • C&B Coal
  • R&D Footwear
  • Tufties Hair & Beauty
  • Hod and Hoe Building & Gardening
  • Holistic Inspirations
  • Dawn Rose Contemporary Jewellery
  • Hear First Training & Development
  • Bride Sew Beautiful
  • BETA Group
  • Beverley Alexandra
  • Autopoint Rawtenstall
  • The Scallywag Rossendale
  • Tozer Associates
  • Matt Knott Design

Continue reading “Rossendale Business Awards: Nominations Update”