The UET Journey

Uplands Enterprise Trust (UET) is a Swindon based charity that helps those with Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) to help themselves. UET is governed by a knowledgeable board of voluntary Trustees and strategically led and managed by experienced SEND professionals. The UET staff are committed, enthusiastic, skilled and creative people with a drive to improve the lives of disabled children, young people and adults (CYP&A). The Trust is constantly developing, expanding and changing to meet the needs of disabled CYP&A and their families within Swindon and surrounding areas.

This unique charitable trust was set up in response to the need for meaningful opportunities for disabled young people and adults (YP&A) once education ends. In reality young people with SEND leaving education at 19 embarked on a life of leisure for the remainder of their adult lives. The early retirement option was not welcomed by the YP&A or their families who had worked extremely hard in partnership with their child’s school to prepare them for a purposeful life contributing to their local community.

UET was created to ensure that this aspiration, to be valued by and contribute to the local community, was realised for CYP&A with SEND, regardless of the barriers caused by their disabilities. In response to the changing needs of local families, UET has diversified and developed their services and provision over recent years. This has ensured that UET has established a reputation for providing a high-quality offer that meets the needs of wide range CYP&A, while still holding fast to their vision of helping those with SEND to help themselves.

The UET Journey

Charity shops
UET was created in 2012 with a clear ambition to provide meaningful and purposeful skill-based opportunities to enable these YP&A to gain transferable skills that should benefit the community, provide them with sound work ethics and a sense of worth and belonging. UET wanted to make a difference to their life choices and outcomes and began by creating the opportunities to help shape their future.

This ambition started with 1 small charity shop. The Redhouse shop opened in November 2012 just behind Uplands school, a great location for the students to access and assist in all aspects of retail and running the café. More shops followed and by 2019 UET had a specialist baby and children’s shop, a boutique and our flagship store in the Brunel centre in Swindon.

The retail decline and the impact of COVID 19 pandemic resulted in UET ceasing trading in the Charity Shops. In late 2020 these retail premises were re-purposed to support enterprise activity and the Online retail offer.

What about a Farm…
The UET farm at South Leigh established in 2013, offers the CYP&A the chance to engage and interact with livestock and learn life skills in health and safety, environmental care, life processes and horticulture. Being fully inclusive, the farm enables all our CYP&A to interact with peers and staff while taking part in practical, hands on experience regardless of their ability. Our poly-tunnel with wheelchair height planters, fully equipped workshop and selection of small mammals through to chickens, a pony and the farm dogs provide a varied and friendly environment.

Then Horizons College
The college opened in September 2013 as a community-based specialist college offering educational opportunities for learners aged 16 - 25 years old with a wide range of special needs. The college grew rapidly from 10 learners in September 2013 to over 80 learners in September 2020. The college played a major role in the UET’s development, but the rapid growth and focus on education outcomes meant that the transfer of the college to the educational family of the emerging Brunel SEN MAT was in the best interests of the college and the remaining UET non-education activity. Following the launch of the Brunel SEN Multi Academy Trust (BSM) in September 2018, Horizons began the transition to join its educational partners. This was achieved through the establishment of the BSM subsidiary company Brunel Education (BE), which enabled Horizons College to transfer to BE on 31st August 2019.

Followed by the development of the post-education Skills Offer…
As the college grew and developed, the College learners needed a quality post-education offer that continued to develop and maintain the skills learnt through school and college. UET was committed to supporting the College leavers and their families, so created a post-education skills-based offer that ensured skills learnt were applied through a range of work and life skills opportunities. Skills for Work and Skills for Life became a quality post-education programme promoting independence and life in the community.

This well-respected Skills offer further developed with the addition of a Bespoke Skills programme in September 2019 that was created to be accessible by YP&A that needed a fully individualised package with a focus on functional activity leading to enterprise opportunities.

In 2020, UET further diversified…
Although 2020 saw UET remove the retail activity it also saw the implementation of a new service UET Short Breaks, a respite provision for SEND children and young people (C&YP) and their families. This new Short Breaks service was accompanied by the lease of an exciting new premises which will allow for further diversification through increasing and developing the offer for children from 5 – 18 years.

UET is for life and supporting skills for ever