Charity kitchen helps disabled people gain hospitality skills

Lewis Mitchell said volunteering at the cafe has inspired him to go to college and pursue his dream of becoming a chef.

A community kitchen is helping disabled people gain work experience, learn new skills and make new friends.

Giraffe, a charity kitchen and café in Perth, is one of 17 local charities who received funding from the Enchanted Forest Community Trust following a record-breaking year at the famous light show.

The highest ever figure of £49,750 was awarded to charities who focus on helping people during the cost of living crisis and those in poverty.

The charity aims to improve accessibility to job opportunities for adults experiencing a diverse range of disabilities, mental ill-health, homelessness, and other barriers to sustaining meaningful employment.

Dionne Campbell, a trainee at Giraffe said: “I’ve got more confidence, and before that I didn’t have any confidence to ask where things were or any questions at all.”

Giraffe gives trainees like Dionne hands-on experience in the hospitality industry – from back of house preparing meals for the community to serving breakfast and lunch in the café.

She added: “I was originally supposed to start before Covid, but I didn’t get my first week because of that.

“But as it eased off I started doing one day a week and I am doing my apprenticeship now.”

The project allows each person to measure their own level of success and some trainees go on to become full time members of staff.

The Enchanted Forest light show helped drum up cash for vital community projects

Trainee Lewis Mitchell said: “I started here six years ago just as part of my school doing some volunteering, and went on from that to do a Saturday shift.

“Now I am starting full time, from today! It’s really helped with my confidence in general and to go to college as well to study to be a chef, it’s been really good.”

Around 80,000 meals have been sent out by the charity to help people throughout Perth and Kinross who in any way have been experiencing financial insecurity or food insecurity.

Everything prepared and served in the community kitchen and café is made by the trainees.

Funding raised from the Enchanted Forest light show is helping prepare more meals for the community.

Gareth Ruddock, Giraffe CEO added: “When lockdown hit, we had a big kitchen full of food and we didn’t want to waste it.

“A group of our volunteers grouped together and did a pile of cooking and handed those meals out to our partner organisations – other local community groups who were helping on the front line so to speak – and it grew and grew and grew.

“As we started coming in and out of lockdowns as we did, we recognised that it was giving our trainees quite an amazing experience.

“They were getting one to one time, following processes from start to finish.”

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