Fifth Trust News


Learning disability week: Serving kindness at the café

18 June 2024

It is #LearningDisabilityWeek between Monday 17 - Sunday 23 June 2024. This year's theme is "Do you see me?" which is about challenging the barriers people with a learning disability face.

We run two social enterprises at The Fifth Trust – the Vineyard Garden Centre and Vineyard Café. These social enterprises are a great way for our students with learning disabilities to be seen and heard – they are cherished by our customers and staff.

In the café, our students gain valuable work experience in a safe and supportive environment.

In celebration of Learning Disability Week, our communications manager Kallum McGuire Lewis (K) sat down with three of our café students – Elliott (E), Debbie (D) and Chris (C) – to talk about being seen, and their experience working in the café.

You can read the interview below.

K: What is your favourite thing about working in the café?

E: Serving customers – I like talking to them. ‘How was your weekend’ is what I always say to them.

D: Talking to customers in a polite way. Taking knives and forks out to them. It makes me and the customers happy.

K: What have you learnt working in the café?

C: My customer service skills have been improved. I like being involved in talking to customers, and cooking breakfast.

D: To cook, and to bake cakes. And all that goodness!

K: What is your favourite thing to make in the café?

C: It varies between cakes and breakfasts. But my favourite cake to make is coffee and walnut.

D: Cakes. Coffee and walnut is my favourite.

K: Is there anything you find challenging? How do you overcome it?

C: Some things I find difficult. But if I find anything challenging, there are always staff around to help. They are here to support me.

K: Describe your work in the café in 3 words.

E: Exciting. Fantastical. Amazing.

C: Lovely. Busy. Rewarding.

D: Happy. Busy. Fun.

It is evident how valuable and rewarding work in the café is for our students – with a particular emphasis on our infamous coffee and walnut cake, and meeting customers.

Sadly, only 5.1% of adults with learning disabilities are in paid employment. We want this to change. We recently had a student join us as a staff member after completing an apprenticeship with the Trust. We have also started running AQA Unit Award Scheme courses in Employability to encourage professional development in our students. You can learn more about what we do on our website:

Come and pay us a visit and help support over 170 adults with learning disabilities live safe and fulfilling lives. The café is open 9-4 Monday-Saturday, 10-4 Sunday.

You can learn more about learning disability week on the Mencap website here.