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Momentum’s Café Society

Momentum’s Café Society

Gerry Mullaney is the manager at Cafe Momentum in the new Heart of Scotstoun community centre in Glasgow.

A new Momentum Skills café outlet in Glasgow is offering not just panini and a cappuccino to locals but it is also serving up a valuable taste of workplace experience to help disadvantaged people on the road to finding a job in mainstream employment.

Momentum Skills opened Café Momentum in the new Heart of Scotstoun community centre in March to help train people who have a disability or a learning difficulty in the skills which will stand them in good stead for getting their first real job.

Open from 8am till 8pm the modern and popular eatery is embracing the burgeoning café society offering a wide range of meals, snacks and drinks.

Out front, amidst the tables and chairs, it seems like any other café. But behind the counter, hiding behind the freshly ground coffee beans, a small revolution is going on as the training kitchen aims to transform the lives of the individuals working there by helping to give them the necessary skills to allow them to enjoy independent living.

Gerry Mullaney, café manager, says, “Our overriding purpose is to train the people who come to us in the work ethic. This is likely to be their first adventure into the workplace, and we want to familiarise them with the routine of going to work.

“Our hope is that we will be able to give the participants enough of a skills base that they will be able to work in the wider workplace.”

The training is both practical and theory based, with staff working towards achieving the catering industry standard qualification of the Elementary Food Hygiene Certificate from the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland.

Currently the café has two full-time workers funded by the Community Jobs Fund’s Training for Work programme. There are another four people in the kitchen who are Momentum Skills Workability Programme attendees, and are likely to spend six months at the café.

Gail Sinclair, area manager for Momentum Skills, says, “The aim is to train all the people who access the training kitchen to a level where they can go into employment in the wider catering industry.

“The café is giving skills, knowledge and training to give them an understanding of what is expected from them in a catering workplace – in order to increase their employability.

“And there is the added benefit that having the café facility will help make the new community centre more successful and a valuable local meeting point.”

On top of what it is doing to help people back into work, Café Momentum is also proud of its food offering.

Mullaney says, “We offer good, honest food at down to earth prices. We are not offering fancy dishes with strange names that you see on the television. Instead, we focus on food that people actually want to eat – traditional comfort food if you like.”

But the café also stresses its healthy eating origins. All food is freshly prepared and cooked using locally sourced produce, with no added fat or flavourings. It also caters for vegetarians and vegans.

The breakfast menu is particularly popular with local businesses, and features the local speciality of a black pudding and potato scone roll.

Every day there is a different ‘hot special’ and a ‘soup of the day’. The lunchtime menu also offers the set fare of fresh sandwiches, wraps, toasties, paninis, baked potatoes, burgers, pizzas and its popular range of ‘bean to cup’ coffees. Food is available for take away and the café is developing an outside catering menu for local offices.

Apart from helping individuals get the skills for a job in the wider workplace, another benefit is that the training kitchen boosts self confidence and helps promote independent living. “I always say that if you know how to make a pot of soup and a pot of mince then you won’t starve!” says Mullaney. “And we are not afraid to invest the necessary time in that training.”

Café Momentum is currently looking at new opportunities and is in talks to open further facilities. But while the facilities provide an invaluable training opportunity, they need to make money and fund themselves.

Sinclair says, “If we have the opportunity to expand Café Momentum it will hopefully result in even more people with a learning disability being supported through a  process which will  give them much more of a chance of getting a mainstream job.”

Mullaney adds, “Unlike our rivals, we are one organisation in the catering industry who is actually delighted to see our workers move on to another job – as that means we have the satisfaction of saying we have done ours!"