Café project will train people with learning challenges

April 19, 2022

Café project will train people with learning challenges

Flourish Café aims to open its doors in June, with all proceeds going to the learning-disability programme. Photo: supplied

A café opening in Takapuna later this year will help people with learning disabilities gain paid employment.

New charity Project Employ is behind the Flourish cafe, running a training programme where people with learning differences can get the support, training, work experience and skills they need to get into the workforce.

Participants will get practical work experience in the café, making coffee, cleaning tables and completing other tasks of a cafe employee.

Project Employ programme director Sarah Dann-Hoare says the most important part of the programme is that participants will be learning skills employers are looking for, including teamwork, time management and customer service.

"Everything they do will be underpinned by the employability skills employers are looking for so they may bring your coffee and ask if there's anything else you want but what they actually are doing is following instructions, being a team player, using their initiative, communication and social skills - the things we take for granted.

"The trainees need support to develop those skills.

"We know every trainee won't want to work in hospitality afterwards. They might want to work in a shop or in an office and they'll be able to take the skills they learn with them."

Trainee hopeful Quinn Simpson says the project is a great opportunity to gain skills that will help him with employment.

Quinn's mother, Karen Simpson, says the training programme is a needed as her experience trying to find employment for Quinn has been challenging.

"I looked for work experience for Quinn for quite some time while he was still in high school and most places were not interested because of health and safety issues, so even finding an unpaid opportunity for Quinn was next to impossible.

"It's very difficult to break in and difficult to find the opportunity to gain the skills even in a work experience situation. I actually think it is a necessity this type of programme"

Project Employ aims to take on 16 trainees annually, training eight at a time over six months.

Flourish Café will be in the Takapuna CBD and is planned to open in June.

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