Volunteers at Wanstead cafe are trained in business skills

Volunteers and service users at the Cherry Tree Cafe

Volunteers and service users at the Cherry Tree Cafe

First published in Business News
Last updated
East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Waltham Forest. Call me on 07824 530 130

Volunteers at a cafe offering training to people with disabilities have been honoured for their achievements.

Not-for-profit The Cherry Tree cafe run by Ilford charity Vibrance in Woodbine Place, Wanstead, teaches skills in catering and customer service, while boosting self-confidence.

The cafe gives people with learning difficulties the opportunity to gain valuable experience in the workplace and increase prospects for employment. 

The seven ASDAN Workright award winners have a range of conditions, including Alzheimer’s, Autism and Asperger’s syndrome.

But Cherry Tree manager Kelly Barone admits she does not check volunteers’ histories at first so “the disability doesn’t define them”.

Speaking about the award winners, Kelly Barone 28, said: “I am so proud of them.

“They work harder than me - it is so fantastic for them to be recognised.

“They put everything they have into their work. When I sneak off for a break sometimes, they do not.

“That certificate means so much to them and they are totally deserving of the recognition.

“I don’t think any of the volunteers would struggle to find a job, they just doubt themselves.

“Some of them have been here for 10 to 15 years, so they have proved they can do it.”

The cafe’s training is centred on teaching the applicant to be punctual and reliable in order to impress potential employers.

The project was set up to bridge that gap in social care and benefits funding to support people into real lasting, fulfilling employment. 

Volunteer Angela Mottley, 52, said: “I have worked here since the 1980’s, It’s so nice.

"I really enjoy meeting people, making currant cakes and washing up.”

Damien Jeffrey-Todd, 34, was full of praise for his manager.

He said: “I do everything, sweeping and cleaning, so this place could not be cleaner.”

Mr Jeffrey-Todd, also known as DJ Shake-me-up, has ambitions to be a dancer and plans to apply for his dream job at a music store.

“I love music especially hip hop - that’s who I am,” he said.



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