How does your job make you feel? I’ve said this before, but honestly, mine is one of my favourite things about my life – not only is it brilliant fun, but it gives me an enormous amount of satisfaction and pride to be able to do something well and to share my skills with others (you can find out more about how I earn a wage here).
With all that in mind, the philosophy behind 3 Café and Kitchen instantly struck a chord with me. Attached to Three Ways School, which provides for children with a wide range of Special Educational Needs, the café was set up to create a place where pupils could gain work experience, in a supportive environment that would make the most of each person’s potential. According to Mencap, just 6% of adults with a learning disability are in employment, and although in some cases that’s due to the severity of the disability in question, for most it’s simply because it’s so hard to gain experience and then find a job that will take individual needs into account. Not only does that mean lots of adults are missing out on earning a wage and gaining a measure of independence, but also on the satisfaction and self-esteem that comes from a job done well. Lucy Beattie, who takes charge of Fundraising, Marketing & PR for Three Ways, is determined to change that, and has raised half a million pounds over the past decade in order to make 3 Café a reality.
|3 Cafe & Kitchen looking sunny even on a rainy day!|
On a rainy day a few weeks ago, I hopped on a bus and went to visit. I had no idea what to expect, but the café itself is a gorgeous space, with a high ceiling supported by exposed beams and lots of light pouring in. The colour palette is clean and simple – lots of white and golden wood, with splashes of lime green from the fabulous chairs (donated by TR Hayes, who are among a whole host of local sponsors and donors). Wide windows and double glass doors open onto a big courtyard filled with picnic benches – and plans are afoot to supply it with a BBQ and a pizza oven for the summer, too. Unfortunately it was such a horrible wet day I didn’t get to appreciate the courtyard in all its glory, but as soon as I entered the warm, bright café, full of delicious foodie smells, it was just the thing to lift my soggy spirits.
|The salad selection at 3 Cafe is pretty darn amazing|
Over lunch, I sat down with Lucy to learn a bit more about 3 Café. A wonderfully positive lady with a big smile, Lucy is absolutely passionate about helping Three Ways students to build a foundation for life after school. The café is run by a manager and an assistant manager, with chef Mark overseeing the kitchen, so there’s always help on hand. Once a student completes the Level 1 Food Hygiene Course, a role is found for them in the café – from creating in the kitchen to waiting tables and serving at the counter – that suits their particular skills. With a slower pace and understanding supervisors, the café serves as the perfect first step to a job in the outside world, and Lucy is keen to set up links with local businesses to provide the next step, with No. 15 the first Bath business to sign up.
And it’s not just the café’s employees who benefit – 3 Café is also the perfect place for Three Ways parents to hang out and get a little bit of support and community, safe in the knowledge that it’s a welcoming environment for kids with all sorts of different additional needs. Every detail has been thought out – from the enclosed courtyard which features only edible plants (so there’s no need to worry if someone gets curious and tries a nibble) to spacious loos and plenty of room for wheelchairs in the café. And even if you’re just in the area and fancy a slice of cake, you’ll be made very welcome too – 3 Café is open to all.
|Toastie heaven (with a big beautiful salad to balance it out)|
Speaking of which – let’s talk about lunch. Regardless of the menu, this would still be a wonderful and worthwhile enterprise, but I’m delighted to report that the food is also fantastic. I tucked in to a sourdough toastie with cheddar, wild garlic, pickled mushrooms and crispy pancetta – just the thing for a cold grey day, and it was utterly delicious. To go with it, I had a tough time choosing from the gorgeous selection of salads on offer, but went for one with puy lentils, peas, edamame beans and bean shoots, topped with crumbled feta, which was full of fabulous spring flavours. Lucy had the soup of the day – a wonderfully hearty affair packed with vegetables – and a fresh cheese scone which looked scrumptious. Experienced chef Mark creates the menu, but suggestions from the students are always welcome, so they’re constantly experimenting in the kitchen! Everything was supremely tempting, and I resisted the mouth-watering cake selection only so I can go back for it another time…
|Just look at those gorgeous scones|
I came away from 3 Café with a big grin on my face. It’s a lovely, friendly, happy place that’s not only doing an amazing thing, but serving up brilliant food at the same time. Whether you’re a parent looking for somewhere new to take the little ones (there’s plenty of parking), visiting St Martin’s Hospital across the way and needing a pick-me-up afterwards, or you just really like the sound of that toastie (and believe me, it’s worth the trip), I highly recommend you pay 3 Café a visit.