John Lewis Partnership begins support for local disabled college

New tie-up aims to support charity and strengthen community links.

Umberslade Nurseries, a social enterprise run by Queen Alexandra College, has recently established an exciting link with the John Lewis Partnership, in particular the Solihull store.

QAC is a national charity for people with disabilities in Harborne. The College offers a range of courses and opportunities for people with disabilities to realise their potential to live and work independently.

As a charity QAC relies on a range of financial and in-kind support to help do the things they do, and are always looking to build links with the local community. Umberslade not only supports QAC students, but is open to the public and offers a range of gardening, craft and social activities for people of all ages and abilities.

Following stiff competition from other applicants, they have welcomed a John Lewis Senior Manager into their team, joining them on a four month secondment to help develop their reach in the community and build stronger links with suppliers and providers. Since the post began, new projects and activities have begun and as Umberslade moves into Spring, the team are looking forward to even more ideas being made possible.

An in-store customer vote lead to Umberslade being chosen to receive a financial donation and they recently welcomed teams from the store to use this money (and other store donations, including a full set of kitchen units) to help revamp their shop, tea room and classroom spaces, making them more welcoming and user friendly for the new season.

Although money and products are extremely welcome, it is the time, expert support and guidance John Lewis employees are giving the team that is really making a difference, helping Umberslade build a stronger reputation in the community and offer a professional, sustainable service to its customers – the new breakfast menu is just the beginning.

Nicky Stitt, Umberslade Manager, says, “The help and support we’ve had from John Lewis has been amazing, so much more than we expected. It’s already made a huge difference to life at Umberslade, for our students and visitors, and I can’t wait to see where the relationship is going to go from here.”

Sara Breen, John Lewis PR and Community Coordinator echoes this: “People and communities are central to what John Lewis is about, so to have the opportunity to get involved with such a great local enterprise is fantastic. Our employees have really taken it to their hearts and put a lot of time and effort into it, so it’s a relationship that we hope will continue for a long time yet.”

The relationship is not limited to Umberslade as John Lewis has pledged support for QAC’s new Fashion Show event in October and will be sponsoring clothing lines to be featured on the catwalk.

Umberslade is based in Selly Oak and is open to the public Wednesday–Sunday, offering various activities, tea room menu and retail opportunities. For more information, contact Nicky on 0121 472 4894 or