What started as an aspirational idea to promote employability and real life experiences to the students of both Oak Lodge and Oak Bridge became a reality in under 12 months with the opening of our shop, The Lodge.
Situated in a quiet retail parade, about 400 yards from Oak Lodge itself, the shop is ideally placed, metaphorically and physically, to meet our dreams and since opening in February 2016, has been used by pupils from both schools every single day during term times.
Whether to help with social-skills, communication, maths, stock-control, organisation, window-dressing or even making the merchandise on sale, the shop has flourished way beyond our expectations.
Now, thanks to the generosity of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, we have a full-time and hugely experienced manager, Carol Bellingham, who ensures that not only are the children benefiting from their time at The Lodge, but meets both students and members of the public with a cheery smile and warm greeting.
That such a small charity as Hearts of Oak, can have such a big ambition, and then deliver it, is testament to the hard-work and dedication of our committee, who work tirelessly and for free to bring unique experiences and equipment to the students. For this project we are lucky to have also been able to receive financial support from three incredible charities: The Hadley Trust, Jesus Hospital Charity, and The Finchley Charities, all of whom have continued to partner with us to enable the project to continue. Additionally, we really must thank one of our students parents who amazingly paid for the entire shop-fit...without all of their support, the shop would have remained a dream!
Please pay us a visit and see for yourself....we guarantee you'll be impressed!!