Supported employees with a disability will work in a social enterprise located at HammondCare’s village in Wollongong, New South Wales.
Operated by The Disability Trust, The Plant Room Café is located at HammondCare Horsley and next to a children’s playground the dementia specialist organisation provides for the benefit of visitors and the local community.
“We are delighted The Disability Trust has chosen to operate this café at Horsley, which has potential to change the lives of people as they pick up new skills and experience,” said HammondCare chief executive officer Mike Baird at the opening ceremony. “Offering a café on our Horsley site, like the playground, is an important way for HammondCare to connect our aged care home with the local community.”
Disability Trust CEO Carol Berry – who was also at the event – explained the idea behind The Plant Room Café. “The Plant Room philosophy is to create a more inclusive world through employees and customers alike having a fantastic experience. We want our staff to feel safe to practice their skills as well as produce high-quality food and coffee.”
Ms Berry added: “Our goal with this venture is to develop the skills and experience of our supported employees so they can pursue open employment in the hospitality industry, should they choose to do so.”
Two supported employees and two other staff will be on shift at any time. One of the supported employees is Isabella. “I always loved cooking and wanted to build on my confidence as I have always been quite shy,” she said.
Local chef Lorenzo Pagnan will oversee staff training. “These supported employees will be taught to work in a fully operational kitchen with commercial equipment like coffee machines and the challenge of preparing food for order,” he said. “It’s not a case of taking the lid off something and zap in the microwave for 30 seconds.”
Main image: Plant Room Café workers Izzy and Jonathan