Zoe in Swallow Community Cafe

Zoe SWALLOW cafe

Zoë was already hard at work when we arrived to meet her at the SWALLOW community cafe, making sure that all the tables had enough packets of sauces for the lunchtime rush later in the day. It was clear that she takes her job very seriously.

The cafe, situated in Radstock, is staffed by SWALLOW members who learn important catering skills, both in the kitchen and front of house. SWALLOW is a local member-led charity supporting teenagers and adults with learning disabilities and the café allows their members to gain useful work skills and experience while participating in meaningful work that benefits the local community. SWALLOW applied to Quartet for a grant to extend the number of days that the café is open to the general public (from three to four days) so that they could offer the opportunity of hands on work experience and training to a greater number of their members. The café is going from strength to strength, offering their members additional opportunities to work including at pop up stalls locally.

“Finally, we ended by putting her on the spot. We asked Zoë about her strengths, “what are you best at?” asked Quartet. “Everything!” replied Zoë, with the biggest and brightest smile.

-Zoe from Swallow Community Cafe

Having greeted Zoë’s friendly colleagues, we ordered our tea and coffee, the service was excellent, and settled down to talk to Zoë. Her name has “two dots on the e….it’s Greek…and means life” and Zoë is certainly full of life. We started by debating the relative merits of different colours of Labradors. Zoë lives locally with her mother and Percy, their black Lab. He’s “a guard dog and a pussycat” explains Zoe, Percy is apparently somewhat “boisterous…a greedy pig”, and clearly much loved.

Zoë started working in the café in 2014, initially for one day a week. She is so enthusiastic about her work, she finds it “really enjoyable” and when she first started at the cafe the task she enjoyed the most was using the till. She has other work experience, having worked in a local charity shop helping with stacking clothes and CDs, and as Zoe says herself, she really  “likes working”.

Read our other #thirtylives stories here and watch the film we made to celebrate our anniversary on Youtube.