The Noluthando Sheltered Employment Trust (NSET) facility will be officially opened on 28 October 2021 at the Noluthando School for Special Needs in Khayelitsha. Enabled by funding from The Ackerman Family Educational Trust and Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages, the renovated and refurbished building will provide a safe and well-equipped facility to enable sheltered employment opportunities for skilled Noluthando students.
The Noluthando school was originally founded to provide tuition to learners with hearing impairments. It was soon realised that while technical developments were enabling many learners to hear, the school would need specialised classroom facilities and tuition for children with autism.
In 2008 the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) Special Needs department approached the Rotary Club of Newlands (RCN) to design, plan, obtain funding and construct classrooms for autistic learners to support the increased demand for enrolment at this specialised institution.
Since then, nineteen classrooms have been built or refurbished at the campus, including the construction of a new Treatment Assessment Centre. The Ackerman Family Educational Trust, Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages, and other corporates, foundations, and individuals have contributed to these projects.
The NSET project arose when Wendy Ackerman approached RCN in November 2020 to explore whether a sheltered employment facility could be established at Noluthando. Support for this came from far and wide, including the headmaster of Noluthando School, Ayanda Ncinane, the school governing body, the landowner, and the WCED.
“The Ackerman Family Educational Trust is very pleased that this project has gotten off the ground so quickly and the Sheltered Employment Workshop is about to officially open. We are looking forward to training these young people and we hope that in the not-too-distant future some of them will join the workforce,” says Mrs Ackerman.
As part of the school's expansion, Noluthando made a large building on their grounds available for refurbishment. The architectural work and project management were provided by RCN (architect Graham Finlayson) and “the MAAK”, and construction was completed in October 2021 with AB Contractors as the lead provider. Funding was provided by the Ackerman Family Educational Trust and Coca-Cola Peninsula Beverages (CCPB).
"This is the third project that CCPB has supported at the Noluthando School in the past four years. This includes co-funding of the Treatment Assessment Centre in 2018 and the building of six additional classrooms in 2019. CCPB’s purpose in communities we operate in, is to make a difference that matters. We are privileged to be able to do this through our partnership with Rotary Club Newlands and humbled to be part of the legacy of the Noluthando School, filling a critical need within this community,” says Priscilla Urquhart, Public Affairs and Communications Manager for CCPB.
“People with special needs often face barriers to education. Finding work once they finish their education is almost impossible. A facility like NSET can provide students with the opportunity to learn and grow and eventually fully participate in society,” Urquhart added.
Under the guidance of CEO, Arthur Cowley, the NSET is evaluating the initial beneficiaries (who will be drawn from the Noluthando Autism Centre) and ascertaining the skills set with which to match the types of work that would be possible and meaningful.
“The coming together of all these different parties and the initiative of Wendy Ackerman to get ‘the ball rolling’ is extraordinary. In such a short time this new entity has been established with energy and commitment around the common purpose of materially improving the lives of the beneficiaries,” says RCN’s John Winship.