THE Bottlebrush Café at Thurgoona is proving that you can have your cake and eat it too.
It has been operating since the beginning of 2017, providing hot drinks, snacks and lunches three days a week as well as catering for specific events.
Support worker Megan Scheetz said the café was proving to be a hit with participants who were gaining a broad range of skills which would boost their independence and enable them to be more involved in their community.
She said the café had been very successful in building skills and providing an environment where people could have greater involvement with the community and gain recognition for their work.
“Everything we do is person-centred but the key is that we want people to be included with the community,’’ she said.
“The café has been terrific for allowing people to see the results of their work which really encourages them to take ownership.
“And as people are taking on more responsibility we see they are getting more enjoyment out of their role.’’
She said work in the café was more than just improving cooking skills as people were learning how to be involved with the whole operation.
“We are really trying to simulate working in a commercial café,’’ she said.
“So people get to do everything including preparing food and cooking, serving customers, cleaning and doing dishes.
“The big difference with the café is that people are being shown how to do things which helps build their capacity.
“Hopefully they can build on that by going on to work in other cafes.
“My ultimate dream is that it will help people transition into work.’’
She said the reward for participants was improving their independence and boosting their self-worth.
“It’s been terrific to see what people are able to do when they have choice,’’ she said
“It’s their choice to work in the café and they all tell me they love it.
“They come in happy and I can really see their confidence improving.
“The terrific thing is that people are learning to do things that they probably thought they wouldn’t be able to do.’’
Susan Healy has been involved from the start and works in the café three days a week.
It’s the first time she has been involved in this type of activity and the enjoyment she gets from being involved shows when she starts talking about her role.
“Coming to work in the café really makes me happy,’’ she said.
“It really is something to look forward to and it gives me a real purpose.
“I like learning how to do things and there are a lot of things I can do now that I didn’t think I would be able to do.’’
Along with picking up valuable life skills participants are also enrolling in recognised training.
As part of the program participants have completed a Safe Food Handling course through Wodonga TAFE.
And with the recent installation of a commercial coffee machine they will also learn the art of making and serving good coffee.
“We are getting a lot of support and it’s been terrific to see participants get a chance to be involved with staff who they may not otherwise have contact with,’’ Ms Scheetz said.
“We serve lunch three days a week and typically sell cakes on Fridays when people are looking for a chocolate fix to get them through the week.’’