From education to employment

West London College Students and Fair Shot Cafe on BBC Six O’Clock News

BBC Camera Operator and Sound Recordist Paul Murphy-Kasp and Reporter Sonia Jessup, interview Fair Shot Trainee, Aya, with Fair Shot CEO Bianca Tavella.

West London College (@westlondoncol) inclusive learning Fair Shot Cafe (@fairshotcafe) trainees were delighted to be part of a BBC News (@BBCNews) broadcast which will go out tonight (Wednesday, 6 October 2021) on the BBC 6 O’Clock news @sonjajessup. The Fair Shot Cafe, which will be located in Mayfair’s South Molton Street and aims to ensure that 80% of its staff are people with disabilities – plans to open in November.

Filmed in the College’s commercial TASTE restaurant last month (27 September), the students were able to  display their barista and hospitality skills to reporter Sonia Jessup and camera operator and sound recordist Paul Murphy-Kasp. The BBC News team had come along to find out more about the Fair Shot Cafe and the aspirations of the trainees.

From a macchiato to a mocha, iced latte to hot chocolate, the students served up delicious beverages and sumptuous pastries to staff and apprentices who gathered to take part in the special media event.

Bianca Tavella is the CEO of the Fairshot Cafe and she works in partnership with West London College, supporting 14 trainees to prepare their careers in the hospitality and catering industry. This includes the trainees fulfilling their aspirations to become high-class baristas.

As part of their traineeships, students are taught by industry specialists and achieve qualifications in food hygiene level 2, allergens and food labelling, barista skills and hospitality and catering.

Bianca was deeply affected by the differences in life chances available to people with disabilities. She saw that many people in her parish community were not able to get work once they had finished their education and decided to set up her own business, employing people with disabilities as a result.

Sue Jenkins, Head of Inclusive Learning at West London College, said: “The students started their training in September. All of the interns have made rapid progress in learning about all the different blends, styles and types of drinks to make suitable for a high-end coffee shop and have excelled in their communication skills.” Sue went on to say: “They also make the best coffee I’ve ever tasted!”

Abdul, one of the West London College inclusive learning trainees, said of the possibility of working at the Fair Shot Cafe: “It is a good experience and opportunity to help people and teach them about learning difficulties. I like being around people. I like making coffee.”

Aya, also a Fair Shot trainee said: “It was difficult to find a job after I left school, I was applying for many jobs in retail. I kept on getting rejected. Fair Shot Cafe gave me the opportunity to go onto the traineeship, then I will go onto paid employment.”

As a young female entrepreneur, Bianca has had to be highly determined and resilient to secure funding for her coffee-shop business. Given the devastating effects of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry, her venture is all the more impressive.

Bianca said “It seems like adults with learning disabilities have somehow been forgotten by society. As if society has accepted that their dreams and aspirations are less than anybody else’s. In fact, the one constant refrain I have heard from people with disabilities is that they get treated as less than human.”

According to Mencap, a charity dedicated to representing people with learning disabilities and their families,  people with a learning disability are less likely to have a job than the general population. 

Mencap’s  statistics on this are that:

  • 6% of adults with a learning disability known to their local authority in England are in paid work (NHS Digital 2018)
  • 17% of all adults with a learning disability in England are in paid work (Emerson and Hatton 2008)
  • 52% of people aged 16 to 64 with any type of disability in Great Britain are in paid work (ONS 2019)
  • 76% of people aged 16 to 64 in the general population in England are in paid work (ONS 2019).

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