3 Cafe Kitchen provides young people with special needs with the training and work experience in a real working environment. The school aims to provide 30 work placements each year, alongside food hygiene and catering qualifications in the cafe.
We want to provide students with meaningful training and work experience in order to move on to further training and work. The project is working to increase the young peoples’ life and work skills, confidence, experience and training.
Following a successful 6 year project to raise over £500,000 Three Ways Special School in Bath opened 3 Cafe Kitchen in the summer of 2017
1 in 50 people in the UK have a learning disability; just 6% of those known to local authorities and able to work are in employment. With the right support, people with a learning disability can achieve long-term paid employment with progression opportunities, become more independent and live fulfilling, happy lives.
Mencap have carried out extensive research and a national campaign to work with employers to help to engage with employing staff with additional needs. Project Search, Bath City Farm and SWAN work in Bath and NE Somerset to provide training and work-based experience to people over 18 with special needs. As a school working with parents, carers and support workers we see a need for more school based work experience to prepare our pupils for life after school.
It can be challenging to find work placements for pupils with special needs. Work places are often concerned that pupils will need extra support and supervision. In a market where personnel are often over stretched and where health and safety considerations are at the fore, this can sometimes make employers question the viability of work experience.
With the support and skills of a jobs coach to develop links with employers we hope to break down these barriers and create better opportunities for these pupils in the future.
Why a Cafe?
At 3 Cafe Kitchen we're developing a personalised programme for work experience which means that students can develop their capabilities. By working with each individual, we are able to give the students tasks that they are able to achieve and jobs that will stretch and develop their skills.
For some students this means regular shifts helping in the kitchen, gradually building up their baking skills, hospitality skills and capability in putting together our regular dishes. For another student this might mean learning how to stack the dishwasher, safely clear tables and help with washing up. For other students we might start to train them to use the till and take orders and handle the payments in the cafe.
The Centre will enable all students using the facilities to gain vital work skills including communication, customer service experience, money handling skills, time management and working as part of a team.
Our Story So Far
Within the first year we've provided work experience placements for 20 young people with special needs. We've worked closely with local environmental health to create a bespoke basic food hygiene course and all the young people are able to gain this qualification alongside an online food hygiene qualification. The course has been adapted to use picture communication, symbols and simple language to make it accessible to all the students at the school.
Two of our ex students are now employed in the cafe on a part time basis and several students have gone on to placements in the community.
Over the next year we hope to have 60 young people completing work placements and qualifications in the centre. We have excellent staff running the cafe and supporting young people to gain experience.