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Cafe offers upskilling and a path to employment

Flagstaff Team

Counter measures… Sarah Dann-Hoare of Project Employ and trainee Billy Lupton

Former Takapuna Grammar School student Billy Lupton is enjoying learning new skills at Takapuna’s Flourish Cafe.

Billy, who is now almost 23, is one of five trainees at the cafe learning skills they’ll need for the workplace.

“When I was at high school, since I have global [development] delay, it’s kind of hard for me to learn money skills and time-management and that sort of stuff,” he says.

“I struggle with counting money. But at the moment I’m actually doing really well with counting money.”

Billy wants to find work in the music industry. “I’m actually learning how to play guitar,” he says. In his spare time, he’s a gamer and a movie-lover.

While he learns about delivering coffee and using the till, he’s also promoting the cafe through his social-media community.

Global development delay is one of many conditions which can prove barriers for young people finding work.

It usually presents as people not meeting developmental milestones at the same rate as others their age. Other conditions such as dyslexia, autism or high anxiety can also be catered for by the Flourish cafe training programme. This was set up by Project Employ, a group whose founders include Sarah Dann-Hoare..

“What pushed me to do it was spending time with the students that I used to work with,” says Dann-Hoare, who has a background in special education.

“You would have those meetings with the families… You could see the parents were just deflated because they knew there was either nothing out there, or unless they had a business themselves, who was going to give their child a chance?”

Responses such as “Oh we can’t possibly have them do work experience with us because of health and safety reasons” were common. “Which is ridiculous, because we can all trip over.”

Now, schools can include Flourish in their pathway plans for their students.

At the Como St cafe, the trainees started learning how the business works, before ‘fake customers’ were introduced.

Now it’s open to the public, from 7am to 3pm, Monday to Friday.

The trainees started working two hours a day, four days a week, and are now up to four hours a day. After about six months, they can move on to an employment-support provider to look for work.

“We’re seeing changes already. It’s only been a few weeks,” Dann-Hoare says. One trainee is overcoming her high social anxiety. “She’s now coming out delivering the coffees whereas before she couldn’t even come out from the kitchen – it was too full-on.

“They’re just stepping up, and I think they’re surprising themselves. It’s so amazing to watch.”

An official launch is planned this month.

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