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Charity’s barista boost

A CHARITY’S café has unveiled a new state-of-the-art coffee machine which it hopes will help people with learning disabilities pick up barista skills and potentially set them on the way to a career in catering.

The machine was officially unveiled this week at Doves Café in Carlisle with the ribbon-cutting ceremony performed by Carol Johnston, director of coffee merchants John Watt & Son, and Carlisle Mencap’s CEO Sheila Gregory, helped by some of the charity’s service users.

Doves Café in the Church of Scotland hall in Chapel Street, Carlisle, is run by staff and service users with learning disabilities from Carlisle Mencap on Tuesdays and Wednesdays every week between 10am and 3pm.

The Italian-designed and made machine will be used to train up Carlisle Mencap service users to learn barista skills with a view to helping them boost their chances of employment.

Sheila said: “Only six per cent of adults with a learning disability manage to hold down full-time jobs. Yet many, many people with learning disabilities have skills and talents. By investing money in this machine we can help our members to learn barista and catering skills which will boost their self-confidence, and all being well lead to a future career.”

The machine was purchased through a collaboration with well-known Carlisle coffee roasters and tea blenders John Watt & Son. Carlisle Mencap was thrilled to win funding from the Sobell Foundation to cover the costs of the machine and its accessories, as well as its installation.

Julie Harrison, adult outreach services manager at Carlisle Mencap who oversees operations at Doves Café, said: “We are delighted to have this new state-of-the-art coffee machine and we are grateful for the support we have received from John Watt & Co – we really value working with local businesses.

“The addition of the new coffee machine means that we can provide a greater experience for our customers at Doves Café, but we have also been able to invest in training and development for our staff and service users to build up barista skills. A key element in our ethos for setting up the café was to support individuals with learning disabilities to gain employability skills and boost confidence and morale in a safe working environment.”

The Sobell Foundation was established by the late Sir Michael Sobell, businessman and philanthropist, in 1977 for general charitable purposes and is a grant-making trust with which he was actively involved until shortly before his death in 1993.

Carlisle Mencap’s Doves Café is open from 10am to 3pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, serving home-made meals, snacks and hot and cold drinks.

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