With the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government announcing its long-term plan to support the evolution of high streets into thriving places to work, visit and live, Weston College and partners (the Weston Business Improvement District (BID), North Somerset Council and the Sovereign Centre) agreed to collaborate in the Autumn of 2020 to create Spacebar – a brand new Digital Hub for the town, writes Lynsey McKinstry, Weston College Business Partnership Manager.
Based in the Sovereign Centre at the heart of the town, Spacebar is a unique initiative, which offers up and coming digital stars the chance to gain vital experience through industry placements, developing new skills, knowledge and ideas, all while supporting the local business community to engage with the digital agenda.
Spacebar suited the five key areas identified by the Government which is defined as breathing new life into empty buildings; supporting high street businesses, improving the public realm, creating safe and clean spaces and celebrating pride in local communities.
This vision and partnership approach gave Spacebar a clear vision to nurture future tech, support the local business community to engage with the digital agenda and finally, position Weston College as a destination for tech innovation and enterprise.
Being based in the Sovereign Centre has also been really exciting, as learners gain additional exposure to local employers who are wanting to deliver digital projects, but didn’t previously have access to the relevant skills. The learners also provide support free of charge, which has been really beneficial to local charities.
In addition, Natwest Bank provide tech mentoring to students, delivered by their digital studio team, ensuring students have expert advice from industry alongside their course.
Spacebar has shown that with some imaginative, responsive thought and vision; the community spaces available on the high street can be used to ignite the spark of creativity and businesses support.
With the unit looking to invest in new methods of training facilities for the students; expansion of its mentoring programme through new industry expert sessions and drop-in clinics for local businesses; the overall objective has not only been met but is adapting and thriving.
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