People with learning disabilities have been brewing up a storm at a coffee van run by national charity Hft. Situated at Bradford Foster Square train station, the initiative allows people to gain work experience skills and spend time in their community.

Three people with learning disabilities and their support workers are at the helm of the venture, taking on duties including serving hot and cold drinks and refreshments to the city’s commuters and visitors.

The van and its budding baristas have proven popular since the project’s launch in June, with many visitors stopping to have a coffee and find out more about the work Hft does locally. As well as boosting the profile of the charity, the scheme offers people with learning disabilities the chance to spend time within their community and develop their confidence and independence, while also building new skills ranging from customer service to communication and problem solving skills.

Open from Monday to Friday from 7.30am to 2.30am, Hft’s coffee van serves cakes and croissants alongside a variety of hot and cold drinks. Following a successful launch, the charity is now exploring options to take the van to bigger events and has opened a suggestion box where customers can put forward any new ideas.

Malcolm, who works at the coffee van, said: “I enjoy coming to the van, it makes me happy. I enjoy serving people their drinks, collecting their money and chatting to them.”

Maxine Kneeshaw, Area Manager at Hft, said: “We’ve been delighted by the public’s response to our coffee van. This initiative is a great way for people we support to experience something new and develop their skills and experience, acting as a stepping stone to valuable new opportunities including paid employment. As the weather gets colder, we’re looking forward to seeing plenty more people popping along to our van for a hot drink and a chat!”

Hft currently supports more than 2,500 people with learning disabilities across the country to live the best life possible. This includes supporting people with learning disabilities to live independently in their own homes, providing employment services to help people develop skills and experience for work and helping people to pursue hobbies, make new friends and get involved in their local communities.

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