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HRH The Princess Royal marks first anniversary of Livability Millie College

October 10 2023

HRH The Princess Royal, Patron of Livability, attended a reception celebrating the first anniversary of the college as it set out its vision for the future.

She joined 200 guests, including dignitaries, staff, students and their families, and supporters, on Monday, 9 October, to learn about the college’s provision and its achievements to date.

Set on a 350-acre countryside site at Holton Lee, Poole, Livability Millie College supports students aged 16 to 25+ with barriers to learning, disabilities and complex needs.

Students are supported with personalised learning programmes which build confidence and independence and set them on future pathways to further education, training, volunteering or paid employment.

The college’s enterprise curriculum aligns to its natural environment, with students participating in activities in four core areas – horticulture, animal care and welfare, nature conservation and catering and retail.

HRH The Princess Royal, Livability Patron

During a guided tour, The Princess Royal watched students participating in sessions involving animal encounters, horticulture, conservation and creative arts.  Activities demonstrated the blend of class-based learning and practical activities in less formal, outdoor settings that support skills development.

The pipeline of future projects as well as those under development, including a new sensory aquarium, increasing classroom space and plans to develop an equine therapy offer at the college, were also showcased by staff.

Visiting the college gardens, The Princess Royal was updated on work to establish a plant nursery, kitchen garden and food forest. Completion of the project, funded by a generous gift, will enable students to learn about sustainability in practice and develop a circular economy, with seasonal produce grown on site used in catering sessions and, in the future, an on-site café.

The Princess Royal planted a Millie rose as she completed her tour, signifying the college’s new beginnings.

She rounded off her visit at a reception where she extended her support to the college and, after speaking to staff, students and supporters, spoke of the progress to date.

It was only a year ago when HRH The Princess Royal joined Livability for a special event in the City of London when the first announcement of the new Livability Millie College was shared with supporters. It is a real pleasure to be able to share with our Patron the thriving centre with such a huge future in front of it.

The Princess Royal heard that places like Livability Millie College are rare, providing a variety of environments and routes to employment for young people with disabilities which have purpose and meaning.

After unveiling a plaque commemorating the visit, The Princess Royal was presented with a posy of flowers by student James Oswald.

Sally Chivers, Livability CEO

“Since it opened in September 2022, the college has been on an extraordinary journey, fuelled by the passion and dedication of the staff team.

The event showcased some of the achievements of that first academic year and demonstrated the opportunities created for the young people we support.

The vision for the future growth is ambitious. We want to expand our provision to meet local demand, and provide students with first-class facilities and enriching experiences.

By working together, with our partners, stakeholders and community, we can realise these ambitions.”

Adele Audin, Livability Executive Director for Education

“To put the work of Millie College in context, disabled young people aged 16-18 are at least twice as likely as their non-disabled peers to not be in education, employment or training. After leaving school, inequalities continue for those with disabilities, who are twice as likely to be unemployed compared to non-disabled people.

We create careful stepping stones towards independence. The strands of our curriculum incorporate innovation into learning and ensure the work students do is purposeful and authentic, the skills are real and desirable by employers.”

Vision for future

Since opening in September 2022, Livability Millie College has doubled its student numbers and anticipates further growth to meet demand.

To coincide with its one-year anniversary, a fundraising drive has been launched to support projects that will deliver:

  • A new demountable (moveable) classroom to provide accessible and high-quality learning space for students.
  • A sensory boardwalk connecting learning zones across the campus and creating a safe route for students to navigate. Sections with sensory equipment, seating, water features and planting will transform the outdoor space and engage students.
  • A new Ambug to safely and accessibly transport students around the college site.
  • Renovations to the existing stables area, with the opportunity to extend the college’s animal-assisted therapies to include equine-assisted therapies.

College Principal Jon Ascot

“Livability Millie College was conceived two years ago. We welcomed our first students in 2022 to this beautiful site. Today we enjoy the beautiful weather, we enjoy the beautiful site and we celebrate the efforts of all to realise our vision of a well-recognised, high-class provision that is Livability Millie College.”

To discuss getting involved with any of the projects listed please contact: fundraising@livability.org.uk.

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