Budleigh Salterton’s Cafe at the Hub is success on a plate

PUBLISHED: 17:00 17 March 2018

Trainees at the Cafe at the Hub (from left): Andrew Howard, Dan Levy and Hannah Pooley. Picture: Paul Strange.

Trainees at the Cafe at the Hub (from left): Andrew Howard, Dan Levy and Hannah Pooley. Picture: Paul Strange.

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It may have only been open for a few weeks, but Café at the Hub is already proving to be one of Budleigh’s big success stories.

Chef Rob Beach helps to provide practical work experience for adults with learning disabilities at the Cafe at the Hub. Picture: Paul Strange.Chef Rob Beach helps to provide practical work experience for adults with learning disabilities at the Cafe at the Hub. Picture: Paul Strange.

The café ¬ which provides practical work experience for adults with learning disabilities – serves snacks and light lunches at the Budleigh Salterton Community Hospital Health and Wellbeing Hub in Boucher Road. It also provides meals for the Hub’s daily Age Concern lunch club and Carousel nursery.

Every day a small group of young people with learning difficulties attend the Café, where they receive training in culinary, management and practical skills. The trainees are gaining in confidence, and, in time, they may feel confident enough to venture into the workplace.

The café is operated by Launchpad, a newly formed Budleigh-based social enterprise company. Carole Brown – whose background has been teaching teenagers and young people with special needs for around 15 years – is Launchpad’s director. She came up with the idea of the Café about 10 years ago, and is delighted by the progress made so far.

“It’s still early days, but it’s going really well,” says Carole. “An awful lot has been learnt and achieved in a short time. We have some young people who came and didn’t want to come in to front of house. Their confidence is such that now they will come and do front of house, try and use the till, serve customers, clear tables and be very much part of it.

Trainee Dan Levy and Launchpad director Carole Brown at the Cafe at the Hub. Picture: Paul Strange.Trainee Dan Levy and Launchpad director Carole Brown at the Cafe at the Hub. Picture: Paul Strange.

“It’s about training the guys in practical skills, so if they do want to go out to work, we can support them and give them the skills that they need.”

Targets are set and the trainees’ progress is monitored.

“We can also help them look for work and engage with the employer and try and get them into work, if that’s what they want to do.

“Others don’t want to go into work, but they really enjoy working in this environment. They enjoy being front of house, they enjoy being part of the community and actually having value. Doing all this boosts self-esteem and enables them to be a central part of the community.”

The Budleigh Salterton Community Hospital Health and Wellbeing Hub will officially open on Friday, May 4. Picture: Paul Strange.The Budleigh Salterton Community Hospital Health and Wellbeing Hub will officially open on Friday, May 4. Picture: Paul Strange.

It’s not all been plain sailing, but much has been learnt along the way.

“As with anyone it takes a while to learn a job and how to do it properly, but what we say is, you learn from your mistakes, so if you don’t make any mistakes, you’re not necessarily learning.”

The Café has already received some funding grants and is keen for more financial help in the future.

“The funding grants I got were from School for Social Entrepreneurs and from UnLtd, and they’ve been very helpful,” says Carole. “They’ve helped pay for the coffee machine, advertising, and marketing, aprons, clothing and lots of equipment, so it’s been incredible. It’s made the difference between us stumbling along and actually being able to operate as a commercial business.

“I’m always looking for funding. We’re a community interest company – a not for profit organisation – so any profits get ploughed back in to the organisation. And we are always looking to improve our facilities and expand, so funding is very welcome.”

The Hub doesn’t open officially until May 4, but the Café is already open daily to the public, from Monday to Friday, 9.30am-4pm.

The café serves hot and cold drinks, plus homemade cakes, light snacks and lunches, including jacket potatoes, sandwiches, paninis, a special of the day and homemade soup.

All in all, it’s success on a plate and bodes well for Café at the Hub.

“It’s fantastic,” says Carole. “The guys love it and we love it, and we’ve had a very positive response.”

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