A ‘Feel Good’ shop in the centre of Plymouth is proving popular with local residents as a safe space to find support and advice – from taking control of their life to leading a healthier lifestyle.

The pop-up shop is run by employability and health organisation Seetec Pluss, supported by a range of local charities and services, and offers help with everything from digital know-how to finding job or volunteering opportunities.

On Thursday 12 March, the shop held an open afternoon attended by more than 150 people. Activities included laughter yoga with Sue Haswell, digital drop-in support from Cosmic, one-to-one health advisory sessions with Livewell and Wellpoint health kiosk tests, a Construction Skills (CSCS) course run by Cornwall College, guidance from Citizens Advice Plymouth, craft activities and garden furniture for sale, made by clients of the learning disabilities training team.

The ‘Feel Good’ shop is taking advantage of unoccupied retail premises, with the central location proving the key to its popularity. When it opened for five weeks in the autumn, it attracted more than 2,600 visitors, who benefited from more than 70 individual health support sessions, plus employment and work experience opportunities, self-employment and mental health advisory sessions.

Avril Bankes-Fay, Enterprise Development and Integration Manager for Seetec Pluss said: “The shop has really created a community hub with a full range of fantastic resources under one roof in a central location that makes it accessible for all.

“Participants felt like it was their space, where they could drop-in without an appointment and feel relaxed. By enabling a wide range of organisations to work together, it provided visitors with more joined-up services. It’s all about signposting people in the right direction and helping them to regain their self-belief.”

One customer, who asked not to be named, explained she read about the ‘Feel Good’ shop online on the morning it opened, and forced herself to go along. She has Asperger Syndrome and had resigned from her previous job because she felt her employer was not willing to make reasonable adjustments, putting her under undue pressure.”
She found completing job applications and attending interviews stressful. However, after securing ongoing support from a Seetec Pluss job coach she secured a new role with a ‘disability confident’ employer.
She said: “The staff at Pluss gave me the confidence to apply for positions knowing that they would be able to provide me with ‘in work support’ when I started my new job.
“They are able to liaise between my employer and myself to work out any reasonable adjustments I might need as I go along and find strategies to help my employment to be successful.
“I am excited and optimistic about my new role. I don’t enjoy being out of work, I find it depressing and demoralising. When I am working and helping other people, I feel that I have purpose and I can contribute in a meaningful way.”

The ‘Feel Good’ shop has received much positive feedback, with one visitor commenting: “A lovely space offering chat, friendship, activities and opportunities to find out about support, employment, education & health.”

A partner organisation was also full of praise: “This is exactly what Plymouth needs, a place for people to come for employment and health advice and support, to be able to feel safe and feel good.”

The ‘Feel Good’ shop, at 65 New George Street, is currently open for an eight-week stint, although Seetec Pluss hopes to find central premises to run it again in the near future.

Seetec Pluss is one of the UK’s leading providers of employability and health services, supporting thousands of people including those with disabilities and other disadvantages to move into and progress in employment each year.

For more information about Seetec Pluss , contact 0800 334 5525 or see: https://www.pluss.org.uk/

Photo: Seetec Pluss staff and partners at the ‘Feel Good’ pop-up shop open day