24 June 2019
This week is Learning Disability Week (June 17 – 23), so we’re catching up with Café Leep. Tucked away on a business park in Leeds, the café is part of Leep 1, a group for people with learning disabilities in Leeds. The project runs an advocacy group, training sessions, and plenty of fun, sociable activities for its members.
Café Leep offers on-site vocational catering training, along with twice-weekly cookery lessons for people who’d like to brush up on their culinary skills. They receive a regular delivery from FareShare Yorkshire, with plenty of fresh fruit, veg, yogurt and ready meals – which they use in their classes or serve up to their paying customers in the cafe.
And, according to assistant manager and tutor Darren, the food from FareShare never fails to impress. “We get all sorts,” he says. “We get a lot of ready meals too – from the Tesco Finest range! People who come here are really impressed by that. There’s nowhere else round here you can get a full meal for £2.50.”
“We run vocational training for catering skills. It’s an accredited qualification. Our trainees do four hours a week, learning in the morning then work experience in the café in the afternoon. It’s not just food preparation, they will also learn about customer service, barista skills and operating the till.
“Everyone learns at a different pace. Some people will get what they need from the course in six months and some people will take a number of years. We won’t rush people in and out. We’ve got one guy who has a very high skill level and knows more than me about food safety, so now we’re working on his customer service skills, because in a café those are just as important.
“One of our trainees worked with us for a year. We discovered that, not only did he love cooking, he had a real talent for making curries. Now he’s got a job at Manjit’s Kitchen, one of Leeds top street food destinations!”
Cookery groups are a more informal affair, with participants taking the opportunity to make friends and socialise as well as picking up new skills in the kitchen. “It’s a social thing,” Darren explains. “People come to make friends, have a laugh and a chat. We have twenty people a week, with people in their early twenties right up to those in their sixties. We’ve had some blossoming relationships as well. We don’t mean to be a matchmaker, it just happens!”
Darren says that it would be very difficult for Café Leep to operate without FareShare. “We’ve got a large menu, but we’re looking to phase out the amount we buy because the food from FareShare is such great quality. Sometimes it has a short date on it, but we’ve got freezers here, so it’s not a problem. If I’m being honest it’s keeping us going!”
Café trainee Shazad agrees: “The cookery course here is fun, and I like learning new things. I like meeting new people and working here has given me more confidence. The deliveries from FareShare keep us well stocked!”
Are you a charity that provides food or meals for your clients or visitors? Find out more about how you could receive food from FareShare too.
“People come to make friends, have a laugh and a chat. We have twenty people a week, with people in their early twenties right up to those in their sixties. We’ve had some blossoming relationships as well. We don’t mean to be a matchmaker, it just happens!”