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New café launched at council HQ to help jobless find work

A social enterprise which helps unemployed people in Slough get back on their feet has opened a cafe at the new council headquarters.

The Real Experience’s facility at 25 Windsor Road will enable its trainees to learn key job skills including interacting with customers, using the tills and stock-taking.

It complements the project’s other cafes in Brunel Way and The Curve, which provide work experience for those who need to build their self-esteem and con-fidence.

Maidenhead resident Jackie Rippington, who helps run the initiative alongside Alex Mackenzie, said: “When people come in they often have complex issues and we do one-to-one mentoring but it’s done over a cup of coffee here, a sandwich there.

“It’s quite amazing the difference you see.”

The idea launched in 2014 with the aim of providing work-based training for people with disabilities, mental health issues, previous convictions or who had been out of work.

Property developers U+I, behind The Future Works building in Brunel Way, sponsored a training room and coffee room to help get the project off the ground, with builders Bowmer and Kirkland providing equipment.

Those who are referred to the training programme take part in a six-week learning course offering them qualifications in hospitality and food safety.

A tutor, funded by Slough Borough Council, covers the theory side of the course and apprentices are also given the chance to work on their CVs and interview skills.

Jackie added: “There is nothing more demoralising if you’ve been out of work to be told to go and write a CV.

“When they come here they do their CVs and interview skills and over the years we’ve got more than 33 per cent of people into employment.”

Kiran Bedi, from Chalvey Grove, who is enrolled in the programme, said: “This is something really different as I’d never worked in a café before.

“At first I was panicking but now I can stand here and do it.

“It’s definitely given me more confidence.”

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