Edgbaston Priory Club is delighted to have renewed its partnership with the Heart of Birmingham Vocational College, giving opportunities for young learners with special educational needs such as autism, to develop the practical skills they need to succeed in the workplace.

After an interruption of 12 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the club welcomed back a group of students from the college to begin a work placement with the Grounds Team as they prepare for the Birmingham Classic 2021.

The club’s partnership with HBVC over the past five years has involved offering group work placements, work experience and supported internships within the grounds, housekeeping and catering teams. However, due to the lockdowns and strict social distancing measures, these opportunities had to be put on hold.

David Lawrence, Head of the Grounds Team said

We’re really excited to be recommencing the provision of work placements for students from HBVC. Whilst the placements allow the students opportunities to learn and develop skills which will help them to find future employment, we also significantly benefit from the contributions they make to the upkeep of the site.

The students help us with a wide range of tasks including horticultural activities such as the planting of summer bedding schemes, weeding of shrub beds and borders, applications of ornamental wood chippings, and general site clearance in the build up to the 2021 Birmingham Classic. The students have also helped the club in the past in reconditioning vast amounts of outdoor furniture, and even some of our grounds’ machinery and vehicles!

According to research by the National Autistic Society, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate negative impact on autistic people and their families, increasing anxiety, feelings of loneliness and placing a greater burden on family members.

As Matt Rawnsley, chief executive says:

We are delighted to be welcoming these students back on to the site, it’s good to have them back. We are committed to ensuring that no person with a learning disability, within our community, receives fewer opportunities because of the Covid-19 pandemic and we’re extremely proud of our partnership with HBVC in offering these life-changing opportunities.


Notes to editors

Research conducted by the National Autistic Society found that:

• 9 in 10 autistic people worried about their mental health during lockdown; 85% said their anxiety levels got worse;

• Autistic people were 7 times more likely to be chronically lonely than the general population; and 6 times more likely to have low life satisfaction (comparisons using ONS data);

• 1 in 5 family members responding to the survey had to reduce work due to caring responsibilities;

• 7 in 10 parents say their child has had difficulty understanding or completing schoolwork and around half said their child’s academic progress was suffering.


• The Heart of Birmingham Vocational College is an independent specialist college for learners aged between 16 and 25 with special educational needs and / or autism.

• HBVC offers an individualised learning environment, allowing students to gain experience and new skills to help them become more independent and prepared for employment.

• Learning is delivered through realistic, practical, hands-on activities that increases confidence and equips students with the skills for the future they want.