Norwood clients are full of beans over barista training opportunity

Charity is supporting those with learning disabilities through innovative social enterprise


Young adults with learning disabilities will  be trained as baristas as part of a new kitchen and café enterprise at Norwood’s Kennedy Leigh Family Centre in Hendon.

The Food for You committee has raised more than £105,000 for the refurbishment of the kitchen, where service users will gain their qualification and prepare coffee and food for other Norwood clients, their family and friends and centre staff.

Part of the cash was generated by Food for You’s fifth cookbook, Simply Food for You, published in memory of Sara Morein, who was one of its members. In her honour, the venue will be known as Sara’s Kitchen.

Norwood client Michael Kuperberg has completed his barista training and is excited about working in Sara’s Kitchen.

“It was a no-brainer for me,” he said. “I learnt how to use the really big [coffee] machine and that has given me the self-confidence to do a job I love.”

He has been working in the existing café and enjoys “interacting with the customers.

“It is great because I have got to know the regulars. I have one woman who comes in twice a day to see me.

“She doesn’t even ask me what she wants. I just make it for her because I know.

“I can take any order, you name it. I can make decaf this, soya that, cappuccino, whatever you want. But my favourite has got to be the hot chocolate. I like to make it and I like to drink it.” He will work four days a week in the new café and “can’t wait for it to open.

“I’m not one to moan. I love coming to work. It brings happiness to my life to know I’m well liked.”

Without the support and opportunities provided by Norwood, he would have “no purpose in life.

“Before I trained as a barista, I had another job that I hated. I would cry when I got home from work because my boss was horrible about my disability.”

After the refurbishment — expected to be completed by the end of next month — up to four young adults with learning disabilities will be trained annually.

“It is a fantastic opportunity for our users to learn life skills and confidence,” said David Ereira, Norwood’s chairman.

“The training also promotes healthy and independent living.”

David Morein said the venture encapsulated two of the passions of his late wife, who ran a catering business. “There is the love of preparing and providing delicious food and a genuine care and interest in helping others.”

Those who were trained “will acquire the immeasurable joys of gaining independence, self-confidence and friendships we feel sure will benefit them in all aspects of life.

“I cannot think of a more apt and meaningful way to honour Sara’s memory and provide a legacy that will help others for many years to come."

Mr Kuperberg hopes to be a barista in Sara’s Kitchen for “as long as Norwood will let me.

“I hope I can retire there.”

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