26 Aug 2022

First training cafe for young people with disabilities opens doors

From Checkpoint, 5:51 pm on 26 August 2022

The country's first training cafe for young people living with disabilities has opened its doors. 

Flourish cafe is aiming to provide a vital stepping stone from school to employment, that is often difficult for neurodiverse people. 

It may seem like a regular cafe on Auckland's north shore, but Flourish cafe in Takapuna is much more than that. 

It is workplace for five trainees, aged between 18 to 28, who are living with disabilities. 

Co-founder Sarah Dann-Hoare was working in special education when she saw a huge gap for those with learning difficulties transitioning to a job. 

"They needed support initially, which we could then reduce that all worked really well but in the real world there's just not that support. We also found that even when we approached businesses, they were nervous about having people with intellectual disabilities working there, even with a teacher aide support." 

Workers were rostered on alongside job coaches to help with training. 

The cafe had only been open several weeks but there had been huge growth in that time. 

Trainee Ariel was testament to that. 

Her confidence had sky rocketed since working here, before that she felt nervous meeting and talking to new people. 

Now her favourite part of the day was delivering the morning coffees to BDO accounting firm upstairs. 

It was a relationship she was pretty proud of. 

"I like to get to know them, I'm getting used to what they like."

She was now a whizz at serving customers, delivering food, operating the till and preparing some food and drinks. 

Today she was working with Quinn, he was loving the new job. 

"I've been finding it really good, my favourite part of the job is taking orders from the till, I get to interact with customers for a bit, ask them if they want to have here or take away," Quinn said. 

Once trainees completed their training, which is around six months, they would be supported into jobs with the help of other organisations. 

Ariel had this message for others like herself looking for their next step to employment. 

"Give it a go it doesn't matter if you're disabled or not. Give it a go and follow your dreams, be happy be yourself."