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Bristol Disability-Led Café ‘Breaking Down Barriers’

July 22, 2022

A café that is staffed by adults with learning disabilities is trying to “break down barriers” in the workplace.

The Vassall Centre Café, in Bristol, has been giving its new trainees the opportunity to gain skills in hospitality.

It is part of a growing network of businesses that charity, Props, is opening to support people with disabilities into work.

“We are just blown away by their progress,” said manager, Bella.

Props signed the lease on the café in June, becoming the second business, alongside a brewery, that the charity own.

Scott, 23, is a trainee at the café, and he has “really enjoyed” every aspect of the job.

His roles have included serving customers at the till, making hot food and drinks, and cleaning down.

But his favourite job is making the blueberry cake which has proven to be a “huge hit” with customers.

“I have learnt so much since I started here, and had a go at things that I never thought I would get the chance to try,” said Scott.

Bella Peatfield, from Props, has been part of the team launching the training programme.

She said she is “incredibly proud” of the trainees in their commitment.

“It’s a huge leap for them to go from not working with the public to jumping on a till and being at the very front of the business and they have just done so well,” said Ms Peatfield.

“Best of all, their baking skills are just amazing, and there is no doubt we have all been putting on a few pounds. The cakes are too delicious!”

Props have been supporting adults with learning disabilities to gain work skills for around 20 years.

The Bristol charity provide access to practical learning, skills development and accessible work-based experiences.

However, they have a new vision, and this comes in the form of “complete ownership”.

“We will soon be opening another, much bigger, café in Fishponds.

“This is part of a growing network of disability-led enterprises,” added Ms Peatfield.

“We want accessibility to be at the core of every business, breaking down barriers between disabilities and work.”

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