Newburn cafe serves up employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities

Friday, June 23rd, 2017 - Jobs

A cafe run by adults and young people with learning disabilities has opened its doors in Newcastle.

The Opportunity Cafe, launched during Learning Disability Week, is testament that those with learning disabilities can overcome adversity.

Eleven people aged between 18 and 50 from across the North East have been recruited to work in the venue as catering assistants.

They will work between ten and 25 hours a week and their roles will involve welcoming people to the restaurant, ordering stock, preparing food, taking food orders, working on the till and serving customers.

The café, located at Waterfront 4 in Newburn, which houses 300 NHS staff, has been unused since January 2016.

The North East and Cumbria Learning Disability Network team, which is hosted by NHS England and located at the site, took the opportunity of re-opening the cafe with a focus on creating much needed jobs for people with learning disabilities.

The café, which employs 14 people in total, is also providing full-time employment for a manager and chef and two café support workers.

The Opportunity Cafe in Newburn
The Opportunity Cafe in Newburn

Catering assistant Aaron Thompson, who is 19 and lives in Newcastle, said: “This job means so much to me as it makes me feel valued and that I have achieved something. I love meeting new people and helping people, so I know I am going to really enjoy working in the café.

“So far everything has been such good fun and I’m learning lots of new things. I am looking forward to prepping the food in the kitchen and serving our lovely customers.”

NHS organisations involved in the project include Health Education England, NHS England Cumbria and North East, NHS Improvement, NHS Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Property Services, North of England Commissioning Support Unit and Public Health England.

Ruth Muir, the cafe manager and chef, said: “The noticeable effect on the confidence and self-esteem of our 11 café assistants is so lovely to see. Everyone is working very hard and we’re all determined to make the café a huge success.

“For a lot of the café assistants, getting a job has been a dream for a long time. It is fantastic that this is now a reality for them.”

The Opportunity café will have a phased opening. It will serve hot drinks and snacks for the rest of this week, hot and cold lunches during week commencing Monday, June 25 and hot and cold breakfasts and lunches from July 3.

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