New central city gig for training café
Air New Zealand has offered a new café space at its Auckland head office to the operators of Flourish, a training café for people with intellectual disabilities.
Flourish opened at Takapuna on Auckland’s North Shore in August last year. It is an initiative of Project Employ and is supported by the IHC Foundation.
Founder Sarah Dann-Hoare says the approach came from the airline, keen to demonstrate its commitment to diversity and inclusion. “Air New Zealand proposed that we open a café in their head office at Fanshawe Street.”
She says Air New Zealand is designing the space from scratch and the café, which will service 600 employees, will be a five-day operation from 7.30am to 3pm on weekdays. The café will employ a barista and café assistants.
The roles of café assistants have been offered to three Project Employ graduates. Damian and Phoebe will work there as paid interns, and Emily, who already has a permanent contract at Flourish Café, will divide her time between the Takapuna and Fanshawe Street cafés. “Once we are set up we can open up the training side of it to people over the bridge.”
In time, trainees will share their time between the Takapuna and city cafés.
Sarah says two groups of trainees have now graduated from Flourish. The first four graduates have found work – three of them are working in other cafés and one is working in retail. Five of those who graduated in July are currently looking for work. Six new trainees started in August.
Project Employ now offers a supported employment service to its trainees. The team works with them during their six-months of training to manage their transition to paid work.
“This is a new decision based on feedback from trainees, their families and local business owners,” Sarah says. “We are evolving based on what is needed, and that is for us to offer our trainees the whole package.”
In the year since Flourish opened, Sarah says the café project has developed. They have recently begun working with training specialist ServiceIQ to do a “hospo-savvy” course covering food safety and customer service. This will have NZQA accreditation.
Flourish is also attracting attention elsewhere in the city. Sarah says the Auckland University of Technology patisserie school asked if one of their students, Danika Jones, could do a two-week placement at Flourish “just to observe her and guide her in a new workplace”. In turn, Danika shared her cake-making skills. “It’s really great that the community is using us in this way.” Danika has decided to stay on at Flourish Café as a volunteer baker one day a week.
Sarah says she and her team have been surprised at the difference they have seen in the trainees’ self-confidence.
“Not only do they now have friends, they are getting to know the customers really well too. Their lives, their worlds, are getting so much bigger.”
Caption: Danika Jones, Auckland University of Technology patisserie student, and David Spencer, Project Employ trainee, measure the ingredients for some cake-baking.