Special-needs students run community cafe to boost career prospects

Pupils hard at work in the community cafe at Gainsborough Uphill Community Centre.
Pupils hard at work in the community cafe at Gainsborough Uphill Community Centre.

A new community cafe is being run in Gainsborough by students with learning difficulties to boost their career prospects.

The cafe has been set up at Gainsborough Uphill Community Centre on Riseholme Road in collaboration with the Aegir Specialist Academy in the town.

Every Wednesday morning, pupils of the school take charge of the cafe to help build their social skills and give them valuable experience as they work towards qualifications in hospitality and food hygiene.

Gary Johnson, a teacher at the school, said: “We wanted to be more involved in the community, and the centre invited us to use the facilities.

“As a special needs school, we are often forgotten, so this is a great chance to expose the pupils to a social environment.”

The idea is the brainchild of social housing provider Acis, which owns and manages almost 7,000 homes across the Midlands and north of England and also the community centre.

Working in the cafe has been warmly welcomed by the students themselves, who think the opportunity will help them with future employment, as well as their communication skills.

Mitchell Rowland, 15, said: “We are trying to engage with the community and get people to come down and get involved.

“I want to be a chef when I’m older, so this is a really good thing to get experience of.

“It’s very rewarding to see all our hard work come together and people visit the cafe.”

All the profits from the cafe go back to the school to boost a fund dedicated to special projects.