Two experienced charity workers are launching a coffee shop on wheels which will empower young people with autism or a learning disability to gain new skills.
Roger Lightbown, from Shoreham, and his partner Katherine Wynne, from Portslade, are hoping to raise almost £14,000 to get their social enterprise Market Beans rolling.
They plan to raise funds to buy a special coffee bike, which can be ridden to events in Shoreham and around the area, from which they will sell ethically sourced coffee.
The aim is to train young people with autism or a learning disability as baristas, increasing their employability. Mains power for the equipment will be supplemented with solar panels keeping the project’s environmental impact low.
Roger, who has a close relative with autism, said: “We have always said we wanted to do this. It seems like a wonderful thing to do.
“It’s a really eco-minded model and it’s a bit different.”
After both working for the charity Independent Lives for more than a decade, Katherine and Roger are passionate about improving people’s life chances. Roger said that only 16 per cent of adults with autism and six per cent of people with a learning disability are in fully paid work in the UK. He said: “The statistics are pretty poor. These people have a lot to offer.”
It was all about empowering young people, he said, adding: “Some people have been supported a lot throughout their lives. It’s about giving them confidence in themselves and their own abilities and putting them a bit more in the driving seat.”
The pair will take a highly personalised approach in training each individual. “We will work with people at their own pace, balancing the technical skills with dealing with members of the public,” he said.
As well as working with other similar organisations in the area such as Sold in Shoreham High Street, Roger said they will make links with local businesses who could become future employers.
“It’s important to work with the potential businesses they will move on to, to dispel some of the myths and promote that equality which is entirely achievable,” he said. “We are trying to break down some of those barriers.”
To support the project, visit www.spacehive.com/marketbeans