Business news

A real labour of love from SERC’s HomeWorks

Posted By:
South Eastern Regional College (SERC)

19th Oct 2022

South Eastern Regional College’s (SERC’s) student-led enterprise company ‘HomeWorks’ recently supported The Warehouse, Newtownards in the preparation of their Social Supermarket. The shop is part of the ‘Well Fed’ initiative, funded by the Department for Communities, which works to support people with subsidised food alongside other support services to offer practical and emotional tools to combat food poverty and help make positive changes.

The SERC team was delighted to be a member of the co-design partnership led by Ards and North Down Borough Council and involving other statutory and voluntary partners. Janice Cooke, SERC’s Partnership and Project Development Manager and representative on the co-design group, says,

“It’s been a privilege to work alongside very experienced professionals and volunteers in the Ards and North Down area to design a social supermarket which aims to address food insecurity.  At SERC we have been able to identify opportunities for our staff and students to add value to this project through designing economical recipes, providing information on returning to education and the outstanding work which our HomeWorks company has carried out in transforming a bare, dark room into a warm and inviting space.”

Past students in Level 3 Interior Design at Bangor campus Cindy Kennedy, Beth Hollinger, Donna Wilson and their tutor Sharon Castles were closely involved in the project, which evidently met the brief and expectation from The Warehouse. They created a space for customers which gives them both ‘a big hug’ and also an element of dignity when accessing these services.

Tutor Sharon Castles comments: “HomeWorks NI has been an exceptional student company since it was established three years ago following a project for Lisburn & Castlereagh Borough Council. It enables students to develop their confidence, skills and portfolios through Project Based Learning and helps towards establishing their own companies.”

She continues: “This fantastic opportunity to work with The Warehouse arose from an Enterprise & Entrepreneurship event earlier this year, and I have had great support from Cindy, Beth and Donna over the summer to make sure we gave The Warehouse exactly what they wanted. We used recycled furniture, baskets and accessories to bring the project together, as well as using old pallets to create shelving. This ensured that we kept the costs to a minimum and effectively used existing materials. The team excelled in making the vision a reality whilst developing and strengthening relationships within the team.”

Sharon concludes: “We will continue to work alongside The Warehouse and hope to establish more residential and community clients through the HomeWorks enterprise. I would highly encourage new students to get involved with HomeWorks and get a taste of more exciting projects which will arise in the future, which will both develop their skills and support the local community.”

If you would like to avail of any of HomeWorks NI interior design services, please contact Sharon Castles at

If you are a company who would like to donate surplus food to The Warehouse’s ‘WellFed’ project, please call 028 9182 1721.

Visit to unlock your future #BetterOffAtSERC.