RSBi learning centre officially opened in Glasgow

© Ian Watson
Jamie Hepburn and RSBi employee Martin McGarvie © Ian Watson

A new learning centre designed by visually impaired workers has been launched at Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft Industries (RSBi) in Glasgow.

The facility was officially opened today by MSP Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Employability and Training, following a £30,000 refurbishment.

RSBi, which is operated by City Building Glasgow on behalf of Glasgow City Council, designs and manufactures a wide range of furniture for major construction contracts. More than half of its 260 staff have a disability, including visual and hearing impairments and learning disabilities.

The factory’s learning centre was established to help staff improve their literacy, numeracy and IT skills. All employees are paid to spend an hour and a half of their working week in the learning centre while courses in subjects including personal safety and mindfulness are also offered to enhance life skills.

The newly refurbished centre incorporates a highly contrasting colour scheme, an extra-large smart board and software that enables students to enlarge teaching materials displayed on the screen on their individual PCs or iPads.

 Mr Hepburn unveiled a plaque at the learning centre before undertaking a tour of RSBi, where he met employees who have been supported by the facility. He said, “RSBi’s learning centre gives the factory’s employees a chance to flourish and develop at their own pace. It’s been great to meet some of the staff who have benefited from RSBi’s supportive workplace learning and see how confident they’ve become in their jobs.

 “The centre’s new design will make it more accessible and easier for employees to join in and get involved.”

 Allan Burns, deputy director of City Building added, “The learning centre is integral not just to helping our staff to do their jobs but to also to providing them with opportunities to enjoy a better quality of life. One of the team who worked on the refurbishment of the centre couldn’t read or write when he first arrived at RSBi as a school student seeking work experience.

“After intensive literacy and numeracy support from the learning centre he acquired the skills necessary to secure an apprentice role with City Building. He passed the same tests as everyone else to get the job, despite not being able to write his own address just a few years ago.”

The project was facilitated by a £30,000 grant from the Blindcraft Trust, a charitable fund operated by Glasgow City Council.

Councillor Frank McAveety, leader of Glasgow City Council said, “RSBi provides vital employment and training opportunities for its disabled workforce and ex-service personnel returning from active service.

“It also plays an important role in the economic regeneration of the local community and beyond. RSBi is therefore one of the country’s leading examples of social enterprise, combining commercial success with socially responsible practices, and of Glasgow City Council’s commitment to creating jobs and helping our vulnerable citizens.”