Essex Community Foundation

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Ewan enjoys the sweet taste of success

5th February 2019

A teenage barista who learned his coffee-making trade through a social enterprise training programme in Colchester has been rewarded with a job – with the training organisation itself.

Ewan Gordon, 19, from Ardleigh, so impressed his mentors at We Walk The Line, a not-for-profit café based at Firstsite, that he was given a part-time job at the end of the six week course, securing further work with Firstsite itself.

The opportunity came about after We Walk The Line received a £3,000 grant from Colne Housing’s Colne Community Builders Fund, which supports charities in Essex and Suffolk that make a difference to communities. The grant was used towards funding a mentor for Ewan and others referred to the service.

Ewan, who attended Kingswode Hoe School in Colchester before undertaking catering qualifications at Chelmsford College, said: “I was thrilled to be offered a job here. I absolutely love it and the training programme has given me so much more confidence. I have a smile on my face every time I come to work.”

We Walk The Line was established in London as a Community Interest Company (CIC) by Mat Corbett and Kieron Tilley in order to give opportunities to disadvantaged young people. The organisation provides coaching and mentoring to enhance their customer service and communication skills, while helping them set up their own coffee cart businesses.

The scheme came to Colchester after former Mayor Cllr Julie Young saw it in action and thought it would be a great addition to the town.

Mentor Sarah Roberts works with the barista trainees twice a week, coaching them through the ‘Wake Up and Smell the Coffee’ programme, helping them set goals to step into the working world. This includes developing interview skills, CV building and job searching.

She explained: “It’s so great when you see the people you’re working with really grow in confidence and develop new skills, such as team-working. We’ve got lots of success stories, like Ewan’s, where we’ve seen people really come out of their shells and develop their self-esteem.”

Matt Beales, Manager of the service in Colchester, added: “At the same time, the community benefits from the wide choice of coffees, refreshments and cakes served in the foyer at Firstsite in a commercially successful café.”

Sarah Cawley, of Colne Housing, said: “We Walk the Line is exactly the sort of organisation we’re so pleased to help through our Colne Community Builders Fund.

“Colne is an organisation which is all about enabling people to live independently and encouraging communities to thrive and, since launching our fund four years ago, we have now awarded more than £40,000 to local charities and voluntary projects which support people to lead independent lives.”

Other organisations to receive grants from Colne in the past year include:

Mid and North East Essex Mind for a pilot course of Mindfulness sessions as part of ongoing support for a group of people with mental health problems who have completed counselling.
Sailship Training and Learning for Life to support and expand a project providing horticultural and retail training for people with learning difficulties in the Tendring District.
The Bridge Project to support the expansion of The DeCaf Project which improves social inclusion for those with dementia and their carers in Sudbury.

Applications to the Fund can be made by charities and community organisations in areas where Colne Housing operates - Babergh, Braintree, Chelmsford, Colchester, Maldon, Tendring and Uttlesford. For more information, call Essex Community Foundation on 01245 356018.