A COFFEE shop set up by Cope Foundation to provide work experience and employment opportunities for young people with intellectual disabilities in Cork city has celebrated its third birthday.
Roots UCC is located in the university’s student centre, The Hub, and has been a firm favourite with students, staff, and locals since it first opened in the spring of 2020.
Up to 50 people supported by Cope Foundation have obtained work experience since then with 15 of these securing full-time employment as a result of the skills learned at the coffee shop.
It’s one of two cafes run by the Cope Foundation. The first Roots coffee shop opened next to Beech Hill Garden Centre in Montenotte in 2018. Sustainability is an important part of Roots UCC. There are no disposable takeaway cups and any food that is not sold on the day is donated to staff and students in UCC.
Roots UCC is open from 10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday and the trainees are serving as many as 200 cups of coffee a day during these hours.
John Paul from Bandon has been part of the team for more than a year and is hoping the skills he’s learned during that time will help him secure full-time employment in the workforce.
He said: “Roots UCC is a great place to work, to learn new skills, and gain valuable experience. I can now make flat whites and mochas and I’ve made a few friends along the way. I’m currently looking for proper work so hopefully, some place will be hiring, they will have a look at my CV, think that it looks good, and give me a job.”
Louise McDonald, staff member of Cope Foundation, has been involved with Roots UCC since its inception. She said that the coffee shop has overcome the many challenges they were forced to endure during Covid-19 and continues to grow from strength to strength.
Louise added: “I just want to thank everybody who has worked in the cafe since it first opened for their hard work, perseverance, and endurance. It’s been fantastic to see how they’ve all acclimatised to the different jobs and have done so with a smile. Roots UCC is a massive part of life in UCC and most of our customers are repeat customers that come back to us every day.”
Sean Abbott, Chief Executive of Cope Foundation, said: “Roots UCC is a fantastic opportunity for the people supported by Cope Foundation to learn invaluable skills in a busy working environment. Not only are they learning how to make a great cup of coffee but they’re dealing with the public every day and these interactions are so important in their development.”