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Working together to support young people’s first steps into hospitality

14th December 2022 – Tags: Employers, Inclusive Learning, MINT

The MINT pre-employment hospitality project at City College Norwich is partnering with local cafés and restaurants to help young people gain the skills and experience to find work in the industry.

MINT specialises in working with young people with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. Following a period of training in college, focused on employability skills and help with job searching, MINT works with employers to provide work placements for these young people.

Throughout the work placement, each young person is supported by a MINT Employment Job Coach, who works closely with the employer to help ensure a smooth transition.

For many of the young people MINT works with, this may be their first experience of employment. This was the case for Ashley Abad, who has been working at the Sanctuary Café (part of St Alban’s Church) on Grove Walk in Norwich.

‘I felt a little bit nervous and scared’, recalls Ashley, thinking back to the start of his placement.

However, with guidance and encouragement from the café’s manager, Claire Gibby, and working alongside volunteer staff members, Ashley quickly found his feet.

His duties in the kitchen assistant role include washing up, clearing tables, checking stock, and helping with some of the food preparation.

Claire has been highly impressed by Ashley’s work ethic, saying, ‘He really is so enthusiastic, he just gets on with the work. Ashley has become a trusted part of the team.’

Ashley has proven himself to be very capable, following instructions closely and working diligently to do a consistently effective job. His eagerness to learn has seen him progressively take on more responsibilities, which in turn has boosted Ashley’s confidence and sense of independence.      

MINT Employment Job Coach Gloria Termini says, 'Ashley has been remarkable throughout his work placement. He is very hard working, resilient, focused, and he has a good sense of humour too. As well as making a valued contribution to the Sanctuary Café, he has learnt a lot about himself too.’

The significant progress made by Ashley was recognised by City College Norwich recently, when he was named as one of the college’s Further Education students of the year.

With Ashley’s work placement at the Sanctuary Café nearing an end, Claire says she wouldn’t hesitate to work with MINT again:

‘It’s absolutely great. Gloria cares so much and really helped Ashley to settle in, as well as sorting out things like health and safety for the placement. She has become a part of the team.’

If your hospitality business could offer a work placement to a young person like Ashley, we would love to hear from you. You can contact the MINT team on (01603) 773760 or email us at