The Langdon Community in Manchester has done a deal on eBay to help young Jews with mild-to-moderate educational needs who have struggled to find jobs.
It has transformed a 1,500 square foot former car workshop in Prestwich into the hi-tech Langdon Training and Enterprise Centre, from which a variety of items are sold online.
“People with disabilities have been marginalised in the employment environment by the recession,” explained the centre’s director, Nigel Shields, who worked with eBay’s UK charity partner MissionFish to create the online business model for Langdon.
“Businesses are saving money by shutting the door on hiring some of our youngsters. We wanted to create a workplace as close as possible to a real environment.
“Students will be paid and will learn databasing, warehouse skills, IT, distribution — skills that will make them even more employable.”
Research had shown that those with learning difficulties made more reliable employees, Mr Shields added.
At the centre’s warehouse, half-a-dozen Langdon clients are categorising and packing merchandise donated by a number of businesses.
Stock is also photographed for selling on eBay.Sales have helped to fund £18,000 of start-up costs and ongoing project fees.
The first two months’ rent was earned by the £1,200 generated from the sale of end-of-line cosmetics to a buyer in Austria.
Some of the £250,000 raised at a recent local dinner has also gone into the project.
“We have illuminated shower heads, merchandise from clothing catalogues — even an architectural drawing we believe is worth around £900,” Mr Shields reported.
But Langdon fundraising director Alan Curtis added: “We need a flow of stock donations. We’ve had some substantial businesses support us.”
Among those working at the new centre is Langdon resident Elisa Leigh, 22, who has already gained an administrative job at Bury Museum.
“I’m learning to pack and gaining computer skills,” she explained. “I get to work with my friends, which I like.”