Children’s charity Barnardo’s is bringing two specially-adapted trucks, containing a mobile classroom and a mechanics workshop, to schools and youth organisations in Wiltshire.
The Revolutions trucks have been adapted to offer motor mechanics courses to 14 to 19-year-olds considered at risk of dropping out of education.
The first truck contains a classroom with desks, chairs, laptops, an interactive smart board and an audio system, and the second truck contains a workshop with benches where students can work on engines.
Barnardo’s invested £180,000 in the classrooms, using money which was left to them in a will, and now it aims to make the trucks self-financing by contracting them to schools and other organisations.
The trucks were on display in North Wiltshire, at Grittleton House, for the first time this week to raise awareness and to encourage organisations that would like to use them to get in touch.
Although this is the first time the courses have been offered in Wiltshire, the charity has been running courses for three years in Gloucestershire and two years in Somerset.
Youngsters at Buckler’s Mead Academy in Yeovil and The Link Special School in Odd Down, Bath, have already been learning about mechanics in static metal containers, called pods.
They start with health and safety lessons, and then learn how to strip and re-build an engine. Staff members also offer life skills workshops, as well as support with returning to school and improving attendance.
In the first year youngsters take an award, where they gain the equivalent of a C to G at A-level, and in the second year they take a certificate, which is the equivalent of an A to C at A-level.
Ben Piasecki, 15, from Midsomer Norton, is on his second year of the mechanics course and hopes to have his own garage with his dad one day.
He said: “I wasn’t really thinking about anything to do with the future until I started this course.
“I had had butterflies in my stomach when I first walked in the classroom, but they were all right so I was all right with them.
“This is a lot more helpful for getting into work and getting used to people working around you.”
Barnardo’s team leader Helen Sheppard said: “We wanted to introduce the trucks to members of the local community.
“We know it’s worked really well and we thought if we bring them along maybe the word will spread.
“This project offers an exciting and effective way to re-engage young people who have been disproportionately hit by the recession.
“For some of these guys this is probably the only qualification they will achieve.
“When they are with us they are calm and well behaved, we relate to them and we share our stories with them, which builds a stronger relationship.”
For further information on the Revolutions service, call 07584 347291