About Us – The Learning Shop, Bluewater

The Learning Shop is a unique partnership between Bluewater, North Kent College and the Department for Work and Pensions

The Learning Shop is the only centre of its kind in the North Kent region. Established in 1999 and focusing on employability within the local community The Learning Shop delivers a wide range of services; including professional World Class training, development, recruitment and business solutions. We pride ourselves in consistently delivering unique programmes; Retail Knowledge, Retail Skills, Pre-Employment training and World Class Customer Service programmes that result in measurable increased performance for staff at all stages of their careers.

With an established recruitment brand, the Learning Shop is the provider of choice for local people to job search for retail, hospitality and customer service roles at Bluewater. Over 15,000 people visit our online job website each month. Our vacancy website is the ONLY official Bluewater job site.

Meet the Team

a picture of our manager Ben, he has a blad head and a brown beard, he is wearing a suit and holding a cup of coffee

Ben Gay

Training and Facilities Manager

With over 23 years’ experience in the retail and training industries, Ben had managerial experience in John Lewis and B&Q before joining The Learning Shop in 2009. Since then he has written and delivered bespoke customer service and employability training interventions for organisations such as Bluewater, Land Securities, Porchlight, Clarion Futures, Charlton Athletic and The Orchard Theatre. Ben also instigated and wrote The Learning Shops’ unique and innovative Bridge the Gap employability programme for school leavers delivering to schools and colleges across Kent.

Ben’s Passions:

Ben enjoys Coffee, Golf, Football and dragging Leonie around on her chair when she’s not expecting it.

Ben’s Dislikes:

Ben doesn’t like Pop music and Decaff coffee (he’s a coffee snob)

Denise Marsh

Business & Training Advisor
e: denisemarsh@northkent.ac.uk

With over 7 years experience of working alongside partners to help local people gain the employability skills which will eventually help them find sustainable employment.

B 2 B specialist with skills in arranging and delivering training for businesses , charities including the Princes Trust, DWP, and Community Interest Companies, sourcing funding if available.

Previous experience in Catering Management, and Retail.

Denise’s Passions:

Denise enjoys meeting people from all walks of life and hearing their stories, Always one to try and find a solution to help a group or individual.

10 year anniversary working with Ben this month (June 2019) at The Learning Shop hurrah!

Enjoys Thai Chi, Brushing and flossing her dog jak’s teeth.

More recently after Leonie stayed over to dog sit, Chinese for breakfast.

Denise’s Dislikes: Crabs

A picture of Janet, she has mousy brown hair and is wearing a floral shirt

Janet Moore

Instructor in Retail
e: janetmoore@northkent.ac.uk

Janet utilises her 16 years’ experience of working within the retail industry in various positions including Store Management, Social Enterprise and Training. As part of the training team, I am the Retail Instructor here at The Learning Shop, and provide Pre-Employment training and deliver our Visual Merchandising in Modern Retail course. I work here part-time and am also a Director of my own company – SparkedEcho – a creative organisation based in Medway. I absolutely relish the chance to support learners into work, assist unemployed clients through the recruitment process and facilitate learning in a fun and innovative way.

My passions:
Butterflies, 80’s synth-pop music, hot chocolate and travelling to far away destinations (when possible!)

My dislikes:

Stairs, celery and the London Underground.

A picture of our colleague Leonie, she is standing in a Harry potter dryffindor Down, she has red hair and glasses and is smiling

Leonie Chidley

Business Branding and Skills Advisor
e: LeonieChidley@northkent.ac.uk

Working as part of The Learning Shop training team with over 6 years of experience in customer service roles; Including retail, hospitality, wedding Floristry and events coordinating. Now utilising the customer service skills to support learners and unemployed clients into work by providing; C.V writing support and interview technique training. Also responsible for The Learning Shop’s branding and continuously developing the website and social media platforms.

Leonie’s Passions:
Leonie likes Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, self-taught crafts including crochet, Macrame, Henna and Pottery.

Leonie’s Dislikes:
Reality TV and soaps, Lettuce and moths.

Jenny Wheeler

e: jennywheeler@northkent.ac.uk

Receptionist with over 15 years’ experience working in the Voluntary Sector, her past roles have included Business Management and Community Development. She joined The Learning Shop team in June 2017 and continues to work with The Learning Shop’s partner, North Kent College, as an Invigilator for their students. As the first point of contact, Jenny meets and greets the Learning Shop partners and customers with a warm and welcoming smile.

Jenny’s Passions

On occasion she likes to sing her own composition – ‘the Cashing up Song’ – this alert’s everyone that the day is almost at an end.

Jenny also has the most accurate Cakedar, She has the ability to locate cake and sweet treats with ease.

A picture of our colleague laura she has long brown hair and is blowing on a spoonful of soup

Laura Swann

Centre Administrator

e: Lauraswann@northkent.ac.uk

An administrator with over 7 years of experience working within the retail and hospitality sector, Laura joined the learning shop team in October 2018. She enjoys utilising her organisational skills to support the team in achieving The Learning Shop’s objectives and supporting learners.

Laura’s Passions:
likes chocolate, carbs and cats and when she’s not working, she enjoys baking cakes for her friends and family.

Laura’s dislikes: Lizards and pickles.


Recruitment Team

A picture of our full team at the time, there is 11 of us standing infront of a Bluewater backdrop

We have over 20 years of experience in bespoke recruitment for Bluewater. We offer a recruitment package to the employers within Bluewater that is free of charge. We deal with over 95% of Bluewater employers and relieve the stress of the recruitment process by managing their vacancies via our modern recruitment methods.

We can upskill potential employees, promote vacancies both online and through social media as well as sift through the vacancies for suitable applicants. We like to go the extra mile and offer our services where possible as well as support staff who are under threat of redundancy.

Please feel free to come up and meet the team to discuss any queries you have.