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A fond farewell to Kingswood's Park Cafe

Park CafeAfter a fantastic 11-year journey with many notable achievements, Brandon Trust will end its Kingswood’s Park Café service on 31 March.

In this time, the charity has supported numerous trainees with learning disabilities in gaining vocational catering and employment skills at the café. It has also given those involved increased confidence and the opportunity to make new friendships, leading to more independent lives.

As well as providing food on the premises, the café team catered for buffets and events including Brandon’s ‘20’ photographic exhibition and staff awards.

The success of Park Café over this time has helped it grow as a social enterprise and enabled Brandon to add three new cafés to its portfolio – Barn Café at Grimsbury Farm, Vassall’s Café, and Saint Stephen’s Café in Bristol city centre.

The Brandon team involved has supported a number of our trainees into paid employment, both within Brandon and externally. Brandon recently successfully recruited nine supported employees to Saint Stephen’s and Vassall’s Cafés - all of whom went through training provided by Park Café staff.

We’ve gathered feedback from trainees and here are their thoughts on their café experiences:

“I am so proud of myself, I never thought that I would get so far.”
“I am so proud of myself getting a paid job, it has given me so much confidence.”
“I have made so many friends, I was so lonely before.”

Cafe project coordinator Carolyn Johnson said: “We have supported so many people with a wide range of abilities and built fantastic working partnerships with social workers, local schools and colleges. We have also built relationships with our regular customers, hosted various events, provided catering to numerous organisations, and even produced a recipe book.

“Above all, Park Café has had a massive positive influence on the lives of the trainees. Our wonderful staff team have helped make all this possible. Thanks in particular should go to Leanne Willmott who has been with Park Café since day one and will continue working in our other cafés.

Carolyn added: “I’d also like to mention a former Park Café trainee, Steve Knight, who sadly passed away unexpectedly a couple of years ago. This had a big effect on the team and we all have fond memories of him.”

A big ‘thank you’ to all our customers and everyone who has supported the café and we now look forward to continuing the journey at our other three cafés in the Bristol area.

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