This week’s JMA In Action looks at our funding put towards Greenhouse Community CIC, a relatively new organisation created with a fantastic objective in mind. Their Café, based in Eastwood Health Centre in the southside of Glasgow, was established to offer training opportunities to individuals, including people with learning disabilities, who have faced any form of barrier to employment. Greenhouse Community came to the JMA near the beginning of their venture, and received a grant of £1400 in November 2016. We’re delighted to report that they’ve seen major growth in their company, and we were able to award them a further grant of £2000 at the end of 2017 to help with their new developments. The JMA Team went along to the Café to meet with Stuart and Stephen to hear more.

“We are a Community Interest Company created to help members of our local communities, anybody who faces any sort of barrier towards employment, whether that’s learning difficulties, behavioural problems, addiction, any reason, if you’re not able to get a job, we’ll help you in any and as many ways as we can. We do this through training, CV work, helping source placements, work experience, volunteering, paid work employment, help with accessibility if they have additional support needs when it comes to transport, a whole host of things, and that’s just our employability side.”

“We believe that the combination of enterprise, training and partnership with local government and employers, produces a robust offering that has, until now, not been available in communities around the country.” Greenhouse Community have created a unique environment that allows trainees to learn employability skills for the hospitality sector, and beyond, and they constantly seek to “put people at the centre of everything that happens in the business” through their approach. “Candidate’s skills and abilities vary drastically, and we aim to develop ALL of our candidates, in as many ways as possible.” When we were first in touch with Greenhouse Community, their team was small, but remarkable in their determination to meet the needs of every one of the individuals they work with. They told us how the diversity in the group means training constantly needs to be tailored and adjusted, something which they were so keen to do for the benefit of their trainees.

Their trainees can be referred through council services such as day centres, but many have also heard of Greenhouse’s work through word of mouth, with family and friends coming along to enquire about opportunities. “We have members of the community, mums and dads and others, who just come in to hear about how we could help people they know. For example, a couple came in and told us about their son who has dyspraxia, and has difficulties with calculus, though he’s completely able and just struggles to read and write, and they told us he also needs help with his coffee skills. So we brought him in, for a couple of hours each week, now his coffee skills are way up to par. He was working in a hotel previously, but wasn’t able to make coffees. Now we’ve trained him, he’s moved on from us in a space of three or four weeks and is able to do more in his own job role.”

Greenhouse hope to sow more seeds for collaboration in their local communities as the company expands, and have already seen promise through their trainees moving onto roles in local businesses. “Wherever we’re going to be based, we want to partner with that area’s local community and local businesses, so that it’s all a community feel. It also helps so that the guys aren’t travelling far for their jobs, it’s in their area. We want to emphasise the community aspect.” Further to breaking down these barriers to employment, Stuart told us about their role in enhancing community life by targeting those groups who may feel isolated and not members of their community, and facilitating social events. “We cater for clubs, for elderly people, they come here and have a chat, just so that they’re not isolated. We do that every Tuesday, and it’s become really popular.”

Their JMA grant in 2016 was used to reach one of their first big goals for the company, in being able to operate as an accredited centre, allowing them to award qualifications to trainees. This would be so important as it reinforces their authenticity as a community interest company, validating candidate’s CVs and skills, which would together massively improve their long term employability opportunities.  They used the grant to register with both the SQA and ASDAN, which in turn made sure their centre was able to deliver courses set up by both organisations. Greenhouse returned to the JMA at the end of 2017, having opened one more café in Barrhead Health Centre, and working hard to set up a number of other stores over the next year. Their most recent award will enable further SQA Accreditation in their new location, and also advantage their trainees by providing uniforms and specialist equipment for use in their daily roles.

The JMA Team would like to congratulate Greenhouse Community on their excellent work. We are proud to be able to contribute to such a meaningful and worthwhile mission, and it’s evident that your approach is empowering people, both young and old, to be able to access the important things that many of us may take for granted on a daily basis. We’re really excited to see this continue to grow and flourish!

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