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Harrogate café bridging the gap to employment for vulnerable young adults

By Joshua Hall

Harrogate Chocolate Factory Café is a charity-run social enterprise which provides training and skills for young adults with learning disabilities and autism.

The team focuses on building confidence amongst its trainees and offering valuable experience to help them in their next steps in employment and life.

The café, which is run by local charity Harrogate Skills 4 Living Centre (HS4LC), helps people with different challenges such as autism, ADHD, Down Syndrome and selective mutism.

Jade Lynskey, supervisor and tutor at the café, believes that the confidence their trainees build is vital for their development as adults.

“One of our main aims is to build confidence,” she says. “By having this platform here, before they go into work, our trainees are able to learn step by step at their pace instead of being thrown in at the deep end.”

Harrogate Chocolate Factory Café doesn’t just provide training within a working environment but also hosts classes for the trainees to gain functional Maths and English skills.

Trainees are also given classes in food hygiene and baking with all the cakes and sweet treats available in store being made by themselves.

Kelsie Cuthbert has autism and ADHD and started with the café back in September as a trainee and after a successful period is now a full time café assistant.

“Because the café is what it is and it accepts people like me it means that I’m included and I don’t get discriminated against because I have autism,” she told Yorkshire Voice.

The Harrogate Chocolate Factory Cafe team share their story

The company is not only bridging the gap into work using the café, but also using the chocolate factory round the corner where they make vegan chocolate bars from scratch.

The factory is homed within the HS4LC building and offers the trainees an opportunity to learn about how to make chocolate which is then sold inside the café.

Trinity Horn, Harrogate Chocolate Factory lead, spoke about the importance of what the hands on side of the factory offers to the trainees.

She said: “It’s opening up something massive for these guys. We’re helping push them through boundaries towards employment and towards things they probably wouldn’t have thought were possible”.

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