Award-winning St Andrews social enterprise café Zest is reopening for takeaway on Thursday (April 15) with an even more inclusive welcome thanks to its latest staff training and investment during Lockdown.
Well before the latest lockdown began, the South Street social enterprise which helps young people with additional needs find or keep meaningful paid work was training all its staff in accessible communication – interacting with people in a way more easily understood by folk with communication difficulties – through Communication Access UK, an initiative led by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.
Doing this was a natural extension of the enabling philosophy behind Zest and it’s one of the first organisations in Scotland to train all its staff in it – to help customers and other staff be better understood if they have a health problem or are suffering from ‘Long Covid’ – in which the growing number of sufferers talk about “brain fog” making understanding others difficult.
Last week Lisa and two staff members also did training on neurodiversity in the service industry – serving people with all kinds of personalities and mental health issues – with autistic author, advocate and TEDx speaker, Jude Morrow.
Zest also has better physical disabled access and communication thanks to a £10,000 grant from Fife Council’s Fife Town Centre Building Improvement Grant scheme, enabled by funding from the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Capital Fund.
The front door and disabled toilet now have ‘push pads’ at wheelchair height to activate powered door opening and a green/red light system to show when the toilet is vacant/occupied, which customers can more easily see from a distance. It’s also hoped it will encourage them to stay in their seats while waiting to use the toilet – rather than forming queue – as waiting seated is more Covid-secure.
Former Zest trainee and wheelchair user Erin Watson, from Leuchars, who campaigns for more accessible places in North East Fife, said: “This is great, as it allows wheelchair users to have independence. Quite often businesses say their toilets are ‘wheelchair-accessible’ because they have grab bars etc but that’s no use if we can’t easily get through the door in the first place!”
The café, which plans to fully reopen on April 26 if that date is confirmed by Scottish Government, also now has planters outside with a glass screen to create a sheltered area for people to eat and drink outside, which is also a Covid-security improvement.
Finally, the social enterprise café is using the UK Government’s Kickstart Scheme to give up to three young people aged 16-24 the opportunity of six months’ work and training for 25 hours a week.
It’s inclusively recruiting them – ‘positively discriminating’ in how it finds and selects them by not just posting the job at JobCentre Plus but also proactively telling agencies which help disabled people, posting them on their social media and spreading the word through Fife Council’s Supported Employment Service.
Zest is offering one place initially, then staging in the other opportunities later. Anyone wanting to apply, must do so through JobCentre Plus.
Speaking about the inclusivity improvements, Lisa Cathro said: “We’re delighted to be able to increase the inclusivity of our service and facilities because providing an equally warm welcome for all is at the heart of what we do.”
September 22, 2015
Mental health 1st aid and suicide prevention awareness month
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month which aims to promote awareness around the issues of suicide prevention, how you can help others, and how to talk about suicide without increasing the risk of harm. According to the NAMI website (National Alliance of Mental Illness), suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people and is often the result of mental health conditions that effect people when they are most vulnerable. Did you know that there is a higher rate of death by suicide in Scotland than by road traffic accidents? Awareness of this issue is important because everyone will know someone, whether him/herself, a family member, or friend who has experienced mental health issues, with depression being the most common.
August 17, 2015
Breaking free of the mundane: my gishwhes experience
Monotonous. Mundane. Routine. Complacent. At some point in our lives, many of us could use these words to describe our day. It is easy to get stuck in rut and allow life to creep on by. The very things that can suck us into routine “busyness” (work, raising a family, school, internet, telly, exercise, etc) can also be a source of excitement, fun, and fond memories if you approach them in a new way. Consider breaking free of the mundane by allowing yourself to try new things and get creative.
If you love drinking teas and coffees, then I hope you will learn something new from our list of 9 interesting facts all serious tea and coffee drinkers should know…
April 19, 2015
Spring clean your house and your diet-Part 1
We have made it through the cold and dark winter and now it is time to break the winter blues and cleanse our homes and our bodies. Spring cleaning is an annual tradition where people thoroughly clean their homes inside and out and, while you are in the cleaning mood, it might be good to consider cleaning up your diet. In part 1 of this two part blog post, we will share tips on cleaning your house, while part 2 will focus on strategies for cleaning your diet.
Last Wednesday, employers from the surrounding area came to an employer engagement event titled, “Working Together, Working Better.” This event was hosted by Zest Café and Opportunities Fife and the professional groups represented to answer questions included Supported Employment Service, SDS, Enable Scotland, and Fife Council. The purpose of the night was to inform employers of the benefits and rewards from investing in disadvantaged young people, which is a topic that Zest is very passionate about. The four main goals of the night were to:
January 27, 2015
Two Zest staff complete training at the Leopold Coffee School
The intense 10 day coffee course in Holland is coming to an end for Johny and Lisa. It has been 10 days of study, stress, practise, exams. Those 10 days were also filled with meeting other great professionals, developing new skills, and learning from the best.