Painting and Decorating students from Stockton Riverside College have been brushing up on new found skills by helping to revamp a community café.

The hands-on learners stepped up to transform the facility at Ragworth Community Centre in Stockton which it is hoped will become a “vibrant hub” for the community.

Part of an exciting new partnership between the college, local business Meander Consultancy and ONsite Building Trust, who manage the centre, the project will enhance the centre’s offer, while also providing a real-world training environment for students working towards a career in the catering and hospitality sector.

“With a shared vision, commitment and passion for the Ragworth community, together we will combine a mixture of experience and investment to bring life back to the community centre café,” said Stockton Riverside College’s Director of Students, Mark Flannery.

In the first phase of the refurbishment students redecorated the café and kitchen area which will now go on to be fully fitted out with new equipment.

Tony Ferguson, Course Leader for Painting and Decorating at Stockton Riverside College, said: “This has been an amazing opportunity for our students. We have been given a blank canvas here and so the design has been entirely student led.”

He added: “The biggest thing for our students is the fact that they get experience, seeing the development and execution of a real job and all that involves. The commitment of the students, working well above and beyond their usual college hours, has been unreal.”

Due to open in the summer, Café Meander will be staffed by a mixture of experienced employees along with apprentices and trainees from Stockton Riverside College.

Ian Brown, Managing Director of ONsite Building Trust, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with Meander Consultancy and Stockton Riverside College to bring back into use the café at Ragworth Community Centre.

“It’s a great example of partnership work and I’m sure that the café will enhance the centre further providing employment training along with a much needed focus for the users and tenants. I know everyone I have chatted with is delighted at the prospect of having the café operating.”

Graham Scanlon, Managing Director of Meander Consultancy said: “The new café will transform the centre into a vibrant community hub that will offer local businesses, groups, clubs and the local community the chance to get food and refreshments at the centre which was not possible before. We are thrilled that we can play our part in supporting such a great project.”