Popular Fife cafe becomes more inclusive after reopening for takeaways

An Award-winning St Andrews social enterprise cafe re-opened for takeaways on Thursday with an even more inclusive welcome thanks to its latest staff training and investment during lockdown.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 8:43 am
Erin Watson (left) and Zest owner Lisa Cathro try the new disabled push pad on the front door.

Well before the latest lockdown began, South Street social enterprise Zest, which helps young people with additional needs find or keep meaningful paid work, was training all its staff in accessible communication through Communication Access UK.

Doing this was a natural extension of the enabling philosophy behind Zest and it is one of the first organisations in Scotland to train all its staff in it – to help customers and other staff be better understood if they have a health problem or are suffering from ‘Long Covid’ – in which the growing number of sufferers talk about “brain fog” making understanding others difficult.

Last week Lisa and two staff members also did training on neurodiversity in the service industry – serving people with all kinds of personalities and mental health issues – with autistic author and advocate, Jude Morrow.

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Zest also has better physical disabled access and communication thanks to a £10,000 grant from Fife Council’s Fife Town Centre Building Improvement Grant scheme, enabled by funding from the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Capital Fund. The front door and disabled toilet now have ‘push pads’ at wheelchair height to activate powered door opening and a green/red light system to show when the toilet is vacant/occupied, which customers can more easily see from a distance. It is also hoped it will encourage them to stay in their seats while waiting to use the toilet as waiting seated is more Covid-secure.

The cafe, which plans to fully reopen on April 26, also now has planters outside with a glass screen to create a sheltered area for people to eat and drink outside, which is also a Covid-security improvement.

Finally, the social enterprise cafe is using the UK Government’s Kickstart Scheme to give up to three young people aged 16-24 the opportunity of six months’ work and training for 25 hours a week.

Owner Lisa Cathro said: “We’re delighted to be able to increase the inclusivity of our service and facilities because providing an equally warm welcome for all is at the heart of what we do.”