Unit 21 – Inclusion from Assembly / Packing

Unit 21 is our ISO9001 accredited light manufacturing unit, where we deliver work-based opportunities to a diverse group of people, including those with:-  learning disabilities; learning difficulties; mental health conditions adults, and long-term health conditions. In 2019, we have provided over 20,000 hours of supported work placements for some of the most vulnerable people in Solihull, East Birmingham and Warwickshire.

As a registered charity since 2002, we have supported individuals & groups that are often marginalised due to disability, poverty and mental health related issues. Originally started in partnership with Solihull Council, as Waterloo Woodwork; an initiative to support learning disabled adults, the project now operates as a social enterprise. We deliver assembly, packing and component kitting services to a number of industries, including automotive, health & beauty, and building supplies. We provide positive outcomes for a broad range of ages and abilities.

Does it work?

Feedback from our users & carers has been very positive over the years; in particular for adults with disabilities who enjoy the work-based aspect, knowing that they are contributing positively and being productive. Many of the people that participate with us have gone on to secure employment elsewhere. The project works closely with our employment and skills team who have been successfully helping local people into work and training for over 16 years.  For others, the outcomes include reduced loneliness, improved confidence and the other benefits of working within a diverse team.

“Colebridge have given opportunities to several of Forest Oak Sixth Form students and this work experience has been invaluable. Our students have Moderate Learning Disabilities and through their placements have flourished. They have grown in confidence, self-esteem, self-worth, maturity and independence. As they make the transition into adulthood, the personal development as well as the actual work skills experience they have gained, has been outstanding. A truly amazing service!”  J.Curzon, Head of Sixth Form – Forest Oak School.

I liked going to Colebridge because it was fun and I liked working with different people and listening to the radio. I learnt to do jobs by myself and what it would be like to have a job.”  Under 16 with Learning Difficulties – Reynald’s Cross School.

Some of our mentors are previous service users, who have developed soft skills and undertaken more formal training.  They will be more than happy to tell you how they have personally benefited by coming to Colebridge and how they are now supporting others.

“I moved from volunteering, to an apprenticeship and now I’m a team leader and mentor.  I came to Colebridge with low self-confidence, was self-harming and had left school without any qualifications.  I have developed great experience, which has made me more confident and I no longer self-harm.  I love working with other people and helping them to overcome their issues.” B.Cooper, Team Leader – Colebridge Trust.


Recently we were presented with an Inclusivity Award at the Houses of Parliament by Made in the Midlands patron, Baroness Burt.  This was in recognition of supporting the local manufacturing sector with our experience of inclusivity and participating in a structured programme.

We’ve had visits from a number of adult social car officers from various local authorities, as well as visits from the Mayor of Solihull, Council Leader and local social entrepreneurs.  The latter praised the Colebridge Team on developing such an undertaking and the overall feedback from visitirs has always been very positive.

Senior managers and teams from Jaguar Land Rover have visited and supported the team with training and refurbishment of our factory floor and staff room.  All of the staff that volunteered were extremely grateful for the opportunity and some commented on how their views of disability had been challenged.

In 2013 we were ‘Highly Commended’ as “a social enterprise committed to growth”. Over 70 organisations were nominated for awards so it was very pleasing to pick up an award amongst such impressive competition.  We rarely enter into awards competitions, however we realise that we need to do a bit more of this to raise our profile and because the staff and volunteers deserve the recognition.

Health & safety

As a manufacturing environment we are very attune to  health and safety requirements.  Our staff and volunteers adhere to strict health and safety guidelines, with training provided for the handling of heavy goods and using equipment.  We have first aiders on site and some of the staff are also mental health first aid trained.  Due to the vulnerable groups that we work with, staff are DBS checked and we follow strict safeguarding practices.

Colebridge is a Disability Confident employer and as such we ensure that we understand an individuals needs and tailor the environment accordingly; where possible to do so. We also employ Health and Social Care qualified staff.

How can you help?

Our work here is so important, partly because of the limited opportunities that are available locally.  With help from donations we can continue to fund many work placements at our assembly and packing unit and support vulnerable adults into work and training.  Can you or your organisation make a donation?

Equally, we are also reliant upon paid work from organisations that require assembly, packing or component kitting services. Do you have contacts that can help?

Call 0121 448 0720 or email enterprises@colebridge.org

What are the opportunities?

 – Direct Payment Day Opportunties: Half-day and full-day midweek, qualified health and social care staff support. £55 per full day (as of January 2020)

 – Mentoring: Experienced mentors who have overcome their own health and well-being barriers

 – Work Experience: Placements for unemployed and those at risk of becoming unemployed. We work with schools, colleges, job centre plus, charity partners and service providers

 – Volunteering: Become a volunteer mentor to support the team. Call 0121 448 0720 or email enterprises@colebridge.org