Children’s charity Smile For Life has partnered with charity Ouseburn Farm and opened a café, to give disabled people across the North East more employment opportunities.
Employment opportunities for disabled people across the North East will soar thanks to the ground-breaking partnership.
Smile For Life
Smile For Life Children’s Charity helps hundreds of young people with disabilities and learning difficulties get into employment, by teaching life skills with its work placements.
The charity opened in its current premises in 2018, the hugely successful Café Beam in Gosforth.
The charity opened its first Café Beam on Ashburton Road, Gosforth, in 2014, but moved in 2018 to the Old Fire Station on Gosforth High Street to enable it to treble the number of placements and welcome more customers.
Since 2007 Smile has helped hundreds of disabled youngsters by providing specialist equipment, experiences, challenge days and residential trips, as well as its café placements.
The move came on the back of its #EmpowerandEmploy campaign, which aims to get more people with disabilities into work.
Now the charity has teamed up with Ouseburn Farm.
Smile For Life is largely focuses on younger people with disabilities, whereas the farm mostly works with young adults.
Ouseburn Farm also offers people with disabilities training and work opportunities.
The new partnership
The duo has opened a second café, on the Ouseburn farms premises: ‘Café Beam @ Ouseburn Farm’.
The new partnership will enable the charities to increase their current number of placements.
There will also be a possibility of progression for young people who work within the charity, to go on to gain further training and possible employment when they become a young adult.
The new café has helped to increase its number of paid staff with disabilities to four.
They hope they can increase this in the future.
Recent statistics by Gov UK show that the North East has the lowest employment rate of people with disabilities in England – 46.2% compared to a national average of 55.7%. The new partnership will hopefully help increase the current employment rates.
Café Beam supervisor Amber Studholme, 26, has learning difficulties, she completed work placement at Café Beam in Gosforth.
Amber got a promotion and is now a paid employee at Café Beam.
She said: “I was absolutely over the moon to be given my first ever paid job at the café. I feel very proud of myself.
“Working in a new place means I get to meet new customers, which I love. As a supervisor I help people on placements in the café to gain new skills, so I can pass on what I have learned during my time at the charity.
“Being on the farm means anyone who does work in the café could move into working with animals when they have finished their placements. I love animals but I also love working in the café, so I think I’ll stay where I am for the time-being!”
Ouseburn Farm manager Hugh Stolliday
Ouseburn Farm manager Hugh Stolliday said: “”Ouseburn Farm is a place for growing plants, animals, but most of all people. We’re delighted to welcome Smile for Life/Cafe Beam here to Ouseburn Farm because of our shared aim of supporting people with additional needs to lead rich and fulfilling lives.
“Developing a partnership like this between two charities isn’t easy, but we knew that it would be worth it – not least for the 40,000 annual visitors to the farm who can now enjoy fabulous food and drink here – much of which will be harvested from the farm itself.
“This partnership is a great example of the development of a participative local economy, one that is both founded on and improves the health and wellbeing of all our people. We can’t wait to welcome everyone here!”
Smile For Life’s chief executive Paula Gascoigne
Smile For Life’s chief executive Paula Gascoigne said: “Technically speaking Smile For Life is a charity for children and young people.
“The farm could provide a valuable progression for young adults graduating from their work placement in Café Beam – perhaps working in the gardens, with the livestock, or something else!
“This partnership has the potential to open the door to a variety of experiences for the young people we work with, but also for the young adults who currently work on the farm, perhaps looking to gain experience within the hospitality industry.
“Something amazing happens when charities collaborate, and we are proud to be proving that it can be done very successfully. There is huge synergy between our two organisations with very similar aims and objectives and we are delighted to be embarking on this exciting new chapter with this iconic northeast charity.”
This article is based on a Press Release.