A quirky vintage boutique has been voted ‘Best Small Business’ by the shoppers of Basingstoke as part of the national ‘Small Business Saturday’ (SBS) UK Campaign.
Vintage Treasures, which is owned by Victoria Arrowsmith, won the coveted title, along with Trilbys Hairdressers and Barbers. Shoppers were asked to vote for their favourite independent shop and over 500 votes were cast for 60 businesses.
“We are overwhelmed with the support and encouragement from our customers,” said Victoria. “So many contacted us to say they had voted! We have worked really hard to provide a high level of customer service and offer a unique shopping experience to local people - it means a lot to us that this effort is acknowledged by our customers.”
Vintage Treasures is situated in Church Street, Basingstoke and is a stylish, individual vintage boutique stocking an eclectic range of genuine vintage clothing, as well as superb quality reproduction vintage dresses. All their stock is hand-picked by Victoria and her team from genuine vintage outlets from around the world. With help from her mother, Victoria began her business predominantly online until she was approached by the BCoT over two years ago and asked to run the shop in partnership with them. “This was an excellent opportunity to expand my business and at the same time give students the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in an independent business,” said Victoria.
During Small Business Saturday (SBS) Vintage Treasures offered customers a 10% discount off all stock as a thank you for their continued support and loyalty. “We are proud to have a growing customer base of local people who are looking for that special place to shop,” said Victoria. “When they walk through our doors, shoppers know they will find a fantastic selection of vintage inspired clothing which will flatter all shapes and can be worn at any occasion. It’s great to know we are getting it right and we are thrilled with this award!”
Victoria Arrowsmith (right) and her mum Angie in Vintage Treasures. Photo credit Blaire Rowland.
BCoT opens doors to university with a new fast track Access course in January.
Adults seeking qualifications to get into university are being given an extra chance to secure their place in 2017, as Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT) launches a new fast track Access to Higher Education programme in January.
BCoT is the only college in the area to offer the fastrack option which allows those over 18 who don’t already have the right qualifications to reach the standards required by universities for higher level study. Those who have missed the usual September start time will now have a second chance to fulfil their dreams by condensing their period of study into seven months instead of a year meaning they can meet the deadline for next year’s entry in September 2017.
Anthony Bravo, Principal at BCoT, commented on how the demand for Access courses has grown and therefore there is a real demand for the fast track option saying: “I am really pleased we have been able to find the necessary resources to launch these programmes in January so people don’t have to wait another 21 months to be able to go to university.” He continued: “Access courses are life changing qualifications and people of all ages are realising it’s never too late to learn.”
Pippa Howells, a former Access to Nursing and Healthcare student, is now studying for a degree in Occupational Therapy at Oxford Brookes University. She described her course at BCoT as “the best thing I have ever done,” adding: “It is certainly challenging and it’s not easy juggling the demands of a family and life in general. However, I am seizing an opportunity which I never thought would be available to me and this all stems from doing the Access course at BCoT. It really is never too late to learn, you just have to be brave and believe that you can do it.”
The government has provided additional support for adult learners by introducing Advanced Learner Loans for eligible students. This means there are no up-front fees to pay and if a student successfully completes their degree, the Access part of the loan is completely written off.
There are numerous pathways for Access students and the fast track courses are specifically focussed on Art & Design; Business and Computer Science. The only entry requirements are to have GCSEs in Maths and English (grade c or above). However, those without Maths and English can join the Pre Access course which also starts in January leading straight into the full Access course in September combining study for GCSE Maths and English at the same time.
To find out more about Access programmes starting in January 2017, visit www.bcot.ac.uk or come along to our Adult Courses Open Evening on Monday 9th January 5-7pm; or call 01256 306679.
At BCoT we offer a range of Access courses which are designed for people who do not have the qualifications to enter a university level course but who do have the life experience and a willingness to learn. They are a nationally recognised qualification and are suited to mature students as an alternative to A levels.
Two former Access students explain why they chose to study at BCoT, and talk about their journey since leaving.
It was whilst working as a Therapy Assistant in a hospital that Pippa realised she had the ability but not the qualifications to work as an Occupational Therapist. Encouraged by her friends, family and colleagues she enrolled on the Access course at BCoT which she describes as “slightly daunting,” adding:
“Going to college as a mature student is not something I ever saw myself doing. What’s great though is that there a lot of others in the same boat so you quickly settle in and feel like part of a team.
Returning to studying takes some adjusting to, but there is support in abundance from the teaching staff at BCoT, you just have to ask for it. I had a clear focus on where I wanted to be at the end of the course and I think having a clear goal really helps.”
Pippa is now almost half way through studying for a degree in Occupational Therapy at Oxford Brooks University which she describes as “the best thing I have ever done.” She said:
“It is certainly challenging me and it’s not easy juggling the demands of a family and life in general. However, I am seizing an opportunity which I never thought would be available to me and this all stems from doing the Access course at BCoT. It really is never too late to learn, you just have to be brave and believe that you can do it.”
After the birth of her first child, Nicole decided it was time to “turn things round and make my life better.” She was working as a Health Care Assistant, which although suited her circumstances, was not fulfilling nor personally challenging enough. Her ambition was to go to university, study Psychology and become a teacher. However, she did not have the right entry qualifications to do this, so enrolled on an Access to Higher Education one year course at BCoT which she describes as a “life changing moment for me.”
“I never liked school, I thought I was stupid,” said Nicole. “As a result, I didn’t push myself and came away with average qualifications which were not a true reflection of how capable I really was.”
After one year on the Access course at BCoT, she went on to Bournemouth University to study Psychology and moved there with her family. After three years, she came away with a First Class Honours degree, and is now training to become an A level teacher in Psychology.
“BCoT turned my life around. The staff gave me confidence in my own abilities and encouraged me every step of the way. The Access course opened so many doors, allowed me to study for a degree and frankly, changed everything about me.”
Another group of BCoT students has graduated from the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme.
In a glittering ceremony recently, held at Beechdown Health and Fitness Club in Basingstoke, to celebrate the achievements of Hospitality, Catering and Health and Social Care students who took part in the scheme.
The government-led initiative is designed to help young people between 15-17 years old build skills for life and work, whilst taking on new challenges and making friends.
Split into eight teams, the learners took part in a number of activities from an adventurous residential trip to working in the local community at care-homes and homeless shelters. They also tackled a Social Action Project, where they had to plan and run a fundraising for a chosen charity. This helped them to realise that they could make a big difference by using the skills they had gained throughout the scheme.
Hospitality and Catering student, Leah Mansbridge, spoke highly of the programme, saying she was grateful for the experience.
“It was so refreshing to meet new people and face a number of challenges together. I enjoyed every second of it, especially when we held the fundraising event for KIDS, our chosen charity. We decided to run a ‘swimathon’ at the Basingstoke Aquadrome, which went exceptionally well, raising £770 for the charity.”
By the end of the programme, the students had raised over £2,500 for their chosen charities – the highest amount since the College provided the scheme.
Blown away by the commitment and desire shown from the students, lecturer, Trudy Murray, who helps to run the programme at BCoT, was eager to praise everyone who took part.
“They all worked amazingly well together and were so keen to embrace this opportunity. The experience has helped all the students develop a number of skills such as team building and confidence, which will help them excel in the future. NCS has been such a success since we started running it and the students are getting increasingly eager and determined to make a difference.”