Ben Roberts Cafe gives workers with a disability a frontline experience

Hard at work: Estella Detterrer, Cameron Jackson, Dave Clark, Annalise Haig and Delaney Ferguson.
Hard at work: Estella Detterrer, Cameron Jackson, Dave Clark, Annalise Haig and Delaney Ferguson.

Something ground-breaking has kicked off in Lawson with the reopening of the popular Ben Roberts Cafe.

Young adults with disabilities are being employed and supported to work in our thriving hospitality industry and given an opportunity to develop their skills.

Project manager Karen Frawley said the idea is to make this social enterprise such a success it can be modelled elsewhere.

“We are hoping it will be a model for enterprises that can be developed to encourage and support young people with disabilities,’ Ms Frawley said.

We are hoping it will be a model for enterprises that can be developed to encourage and support young people with disabilities

Karen Frawley

“It’s a community space and it’s about giving people opportunities,”she said

“It’s a great project in the mid mountains, we are lucky to be able to source our coffee and breads from local Lawson businesses.”

Over the past four months the heritage building has been revamped and now three full-time chefs have been employed – Dave Clark who is also the barista; Delaney Ferguson who also provides disability support; and Estella Detterrer who comes to the café with experience from some of Sydney’s top restaurants.

The team will be joined every day by at least two young people who are keen to work in the frontline of hospitality.  They have been part of the successful NDIS Cook + Connect Program which initially sparked their enthusiasm for cooking and serving delicious meals.

Four participants of the program have commenced working at the café in the past week.

Now all the café needs is plenty of support from the community, Ms Frawley said. She hopes there will be plenty of regulars once they sample the tasty new menu.

“The coffee is terrific, and already there have been locals popping in early, on their way to work, to grab a coffee or a bite to eat.

“We also do functions and there are plans to establish a ‘Friends of theCafé’ club to encourage an enthusiastic base of regular customers and attract some corporate support,” Ms Frawley said.

The Ben Roberts Café (next to the carpark behind the Lawson Hotel) is open Tuesday to Saturday; 7am to 3pm.

For more information on how you can get involved contact Karen Frawley on 0410592813 or on the email at benrobertscafe.org.au.