A North East charity dedicated to preparing young adults with special educational needs and difficulties for adult life is gearing up to open a community café that will offer invaluable work experience.
Learning for Life, based in Consett, provides education and social care for young people aged 16 and over who have a diverse range of complex needs and disabilities.
The charity’s learners used to help volunteers at the old Citizens House building run the Oasis café in the old every other week. After the community hub received lottery funding to rebuild and open a new purpose-built facility last month, volunteer Sylvia Lewins is once again welcoming Learning for Life, who are running the Oasis for Life Café. The project is focused on giving the young learners the chance to get regular hands-on work experience in a welcoming community setting.
To help get the café workers ready for their new jobs, personalised uniform specialists Workwear Express donated 20 brand new aprons for the learners to use, featuring the café’s all-new name and logo printed across the front.
Marie Matthewson, Principal and Head of Services at Learning for Life, said: “Oasis for Life is all about inclusivity and breaking down barriers. We want to create an atmosphere where people can feel confident, secure and safe in a welcoming environment that embraces all diversities. It’s an amazing project that’s creating real jobs.”
“We’re so grateful for the help we’ve received from Workwear Express, because we couldn’t have afforded any uniform without their help.
“It’s absolutely vital to have smart, practical uniforms with the right branding, because what we want to relay is that the café is a professional organisation. The young people working at the café have disabilities, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a professional workplace. If they have access to a smart uniform, it will do wonders for their self-esteem.
“They were delighted when the aprons arrived. Their faces just lit up. They could not believe that’s what they were going to be wearing for work. It was really uplifting to see our young people so proud of what they’re wearing.”
Megan Brown is one of the learners in Hart Class at Learning for Life who will be donning an apron for her café shifts. She said: “I like the workwear aprons because they make me feel professional and they keep my clothes clean.”
Joanne Hughes added: “We’re so pleased that everyone at Learning for Life is happy with their new branded aprons. We wanted to help the young learners feel confident, professional and ready for anything as they take these first steps into the world of work.
“The ethos at Learning for Life is actually very similar to our own values here at Workwear Express; we both know how important it is to provide young people with a welcoming and open space to invest the time and effort in building their skills and confidence to allow them to really flourish in the workplace.