Cooking up opportunity: new training café at Te Tuhi

Te Tuhi has partnered with Rescare Homes Trust and the University of Auckland to establish Aotearoa’s first training café for people with intellectual disabilities.

The new café, which is located at Te Tuhi on Reeves Road in Pakuranga, provides in-house training and paid employment for people with intellectual disabilities, through a community-based programme.

The café launches on July 20 and will be open Monday to Saturday 9am-2pm. It will serve barista-made coffee and a range of freshly baked cabinet food.

The Te Tuhi Café team, 2020, left to right, Simon Byers, support worker
Emily Searle, cook Nichole Fernandez and David Stillwell. Photo Misong Kim.

Te Tuhi is fully accessible, with step-free entrances, accessible parking and bathroom facilities. Rescare Homes Trust provides supported residential accommodation and vocational support for people with intellectual disabilities, to enable more independent living.

Tracey Lanigan, CEO of Rescare, says, “The training café is an excellent stepping stone to learn new skills in a supportive environment and we are excited to be partnering with Te Tuhi and the University of Auckland in creating equal learning, training and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.”

 David Stillwell (left) and Simon Byers, Te Tuhi Café, 2020. Photo Misong Kim.

Each participant will have a personal training plan designed by Auckland University, with goals and targets, which will be used to track their progress and development. Training cafés for people with intellectual disabilities are common in the United Kingdom where Te Tuhi’s executive director Hiraani Himona became familiar with the model.

On her arrival at Te Tuhi she identified the gallery’s café as an ideal context within which to implement the training cafe, and discovered Rescare, who were looking for new opportunities for their service users. When the café was closed due to the Covid-19 lockdown, the partnership saw that it was the perfect opportunity to pilot the project.

The opportunity was timely for the people involved in the pilot also, as three of them had been made redundant from their previous jobs due to Covid-19. Himona has utilised consultancy from the Bede Centre which runs run a training café for people with intellectual disabilities in London, and with whom she worked while at the South London Gallery.