North Yorkshire County Council is celebrating the first anniversary of its partnership scheme to train baristas so that people with disabilities, mental health and other needs can increase their job opportunities.
Creative Coffee Cart, which operates in reception and in the grounds of County Hall, Northallerton, for the benefit of staff, visitors and local residents, has proved an outstanding success.
Since it opened in May last year 15 people have completed the barista training and four have gone on to gain paid employment in cafes, community and school settings, making use of their barista skills. Eight people in total have moved on to paid employment or further study and training. Seven of the trainees have stayed on as volunteers with the project to develop their skills further and to support new trainees.
Creative Coffee Cart is an initiative by Creative Support, a forward thinking social care provider and funded through the County Council’s Innovation Fund. It is also backed by the County Council’s supported employment service which helps disabled people or carers into work or training, and helps employers support disabled people in work.
The project offers each trainee a 4-hour week training programme across 16 weeks in customer service, confidence building, money handling, team work and barista training. As a next step it is hoped the project can develop opportunities for paid internships.
County Councillor Clare Wood, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Health and Adult Services attended celebrations at the Coffee Cart where free home-made cake was being handed out to customers. “This is a great project which gives people with disabilities and other needs real skills to boost employment prospects.
“The first year has been a huge success for those who have worked on the programme, with some going on to paid employment. The project goes from strength to strength. The trainee baristas have gained in confidence, learnt to communicate with customers and work under pressure and certainly know how to make great coffee.
“This is an excellent example of the County Council working with partners to provide effective support for people who otherwise might have limited opportunities. This way people with disabilities and other needs can develop real and marketable skills to lead more independent and fulfilling lives in their communities.”
The scheme has also teamed up with local business Rounton Coffee Roasters, which supplies ethically sourced coffee beans that are traded directly with farmers.
One of the trainees, Michael Barlow, who attended the celebrations, said that working on the Creative Coffee Cart had been a great experience, and that he had especially enjoyed working the cash till, as well as learning to make all the different coffees. He said: “It wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be. I have really enjoyed the experience.” Michael has now completed a level 1 in catering at Darlington College and is about to start a work placement at The Four Teas café in Bedale.