Break out the teas! Everyone’s favourite café staff get qualified

red brick

It’s celebrations all round at the Red Brick Café this week after nine of its volunteers won themselves a professional qualification rewarding their dedication, skills and abilities.

You may recognise the group of nine, who all have learning disabilities, as they serve customers each day at the popular Wealdstone café-restaurant. They gained their City and Guilds Entry 2 Certificate in Employability after a year’s worth of hard work.

Supported by Learn Harrow, part of Harrow Council, they needed to prove their skills in areas such as personal finance, health and safety and working with computers.

Long-tem Red Brick Café server Shaida said: “I liked doing this course and am very excited at getting the certificate.

“In my future I would like to work in a computer shop, become an artist, work in a café or work in a clothes shop.”

Her colleague Thusi said: “I like working here because I get to meet lots of people, especially the elderly people. It’s important to help people and look after them.

“I’m really proud to have done this learning. It was a hard course but now I am more confident. I had to learn about health and safety. Now I have a special role here and know what to do if there is a fire and how to look after people and get them outside.”

Alexandra, who said the best thing about the award ceremony was seeing how proud her mum was, admitted her working life can be tough: “Some days I am really tired but I know I have to come to work. Once I’m here it is good because I am with the customers and I get to do everything – giving them teas and coffees and washing up. My certificate shows I am good at my job.”

Cllr Sue Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Community Engagement and Accessibility, said: “We already know how hard the Red Brick Café staff work and how loved by the community they are. Now this gives them a boost in terms of confidence – and should put them on the radar for employers.

“Some bosses might not have thought about employing someone with learning difficulties – so think again. Spending a year studying for, and achieving, this award shows how capable and dedicated these men and women are. They have done so well and who knows what the future may hold for them.”

Mayor of Harrow Councillor Kareema Marikar, presented the certificates in a low-key ceremony at the café this week. “Congratulations on your achievement,” she told the students, adding: “I appreciate how extremely difficult it is to gain real, meaningful, paid employment for people who have learning difficulties.”

Yvonne Brown, manager at the café, said: “We are so proud of what our café students have achieved and it is brilliant these awards give them the recognition they deserve. They all worked so hard and loved doing the course and having the opportunity to learn.

“I’d like to think this lets more people know we are here and means the café will get busier. Perhaps we can open on a Saturday in future so more customers can visit and see what we do.”

The Red Brick Café offers placements to people with learning difficulties and gives them work experience and independence skills. It is situated inside the Harrow Healthy Living Centre, which opened in 2005, on Wealdstone High Steet.

Employers interested in offering placements to the students or in the scheme itself should contact HAD, which runs the Red Brick Café, at general@had.org.uk. For information about courses for disabled people, email learnharrow@harrow.gov.uk