Hotel urges businesses to support youngsters with learning difficulties

Marsham Court Hotel CHI students gain practical skills from across the hotel's different departments. Pictured: student Jessica Fernandes- Nobrega

Marsham Court Hotel CHI students gain practical skills from across the hotel’s different departments. Pictured: student Jessica Fernandes- Nobrega

The winner of the Dorset Business Awards (DBA) Business Engagement with Education award is urging more businesses to help young people with learning difficulties into work.

The Marsham Court Hotel received the coveted DBA from sponsor Voip Unlimited for helping youngsters of all backgrounds and abilities enter a career in hospitality.

The family-run hotel in Russell-Cotes Road Bournemouth, works with six local schools on the ground breaking *Hotel and Leisure Opportunities (HALO) scheme.

It also offers work experience and permanent jobs to the **long term unemployed.

And this year it agreed to host an innovative, new CHI ‘training school’ for young people with learning differences.

Rosie Wallace, whose family own the Marsham Court, said: “CHI stands for Classroom in the Heart of Industry and is something we think could be rolled out across the county and even the country.”

The CHI programme has been running from Bournemouth’s Linwood School  since 2013 and gives young people who are at a pre-apprenticeship stage due to learning difficulties, on-the-job training coupled with intensive ‘classroom’ based learning.

Students aged 16-19 attend CHI at the Marsham Court five days a week during term time.

They have classroom lessons alongside placements around the hotel in housekeeping, the kitchen, maintenance and front of house.

They also study towards relevant qualifications and learn the importance of time-keeping, personal presentation and how to deal with the public.

Rosie continued: “The CHI students have been based with us since January 2016 and it has been wonderful to see how they have grown in confidence and skills.

“We simply gave them a room they could set up as their classroom and they have worked in various departments within the hotel needing full supervision in the early months but progressing to independence in the later terms.”

CHI student Jessica Fernandes-Nobrega, 16, went to Linwood School and for the last three months has worked across all of the hotel’s departments, including housekeeping and the restaurant.

She said: “It was a little bit daunting to start with; dealing with guests and trying all the different jobs. But it has really helped my confidence so much and my favourite job is now waitressing in the restaurant.”

Karen Taylor is the CHI course tutor.

She explained: “We are so grateful to Rosie and her staff at the Marsham Court for hosting CHI.

“There are youngsters who leave school unable to cope with college or an apprenticeship and while most have a valuable contribution to make to industry, they may need practical support to enable them to move forward into further training or employment.”

“CHI has already led to former students securing jobs in the local hospitality industry. But we would love to offer it to more young people and that’s where we need help.”

Rosie Wallace continued: “We need more businesses to offer space to CHI.

“There are so many young people anxious to use this excellent training, but the scheme needs new classroom bases, for five students.

“Local factories or supermarkets would be ideal, as this would give the students chance to do on the job training in different departments alongside their studies.

“CHI doesn’t need a lot of space but the benefit it brings to young people and your business can be huge.”

For more information on CHI contact Karen Taylor on: 07599563618 or email:

Media information, please contact Debbie Granville, Deep South Media, tel: 01202 534487 or email:

The Hotel and Leisure Opportunities (HALO) scheme works with local students aged 14-16 offering them advice and practical workshops to help them enter a career in hospitality.

The hotel has worked with the South West Regional Assessment Centre (SWRAC) since its inception in 2012, facilitating over 40 work placements for local unemployed people, some of whom have been given full time jobs at the hotel.

The Marsham Court was also named Large Hotel of the Year at this year’s Bournemouth Tourism Awards

. Duty manager Andy Thompson was awarded the Rising Star award on the same night.