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Charity launches Thamesmead café staffed by young people with learning disabilities

The Camouflage Café was opened by the mayor at the refurbished Moorings Sociable Club in Thamesmead <i>(Image: Peabody)</i>
The Camouflage Café was opened by the mayor at the refurbished Moorings Sociable Club in Thamesmead (Image: Peabody)

A new café in Thamesmead has been launched with the aim of supporting young people with learning disabilities by helping them build new skills whilst working at the venue.

The Camouflage Café was opened by the mayor at the refurbished Moorings Sociable Club in Thamesmead last week with a launch day that welcomed local residents and café staff.

A live jazz duo and a children’s entertainer performed on stage while attendees sampled some nibbles from the café.

The Camouflage Café was founded by husband and wife duo, Kemi and Chris Madumere, and is an offshoot of the couple’s Brighter Futures charity – an initiative supporting young people and adults with learning disabilities.

Staff at the café includes adults from the Brighter Futures charity and aims to assist them in learning important customer service and operational skills that they can use to help secure future employment.

They will also work alongside other team members who can offer them support on the job.

Emma, 27, is looking forward to starting work at the café and was introduced to Brighter Futures through her brother who has autism.

Emma said: “I thought it was a brilliant opportunity for young people with learning disabilities to actually get to go to work and learn new skills, because there’s not a lot of places and a lot of companies out there that understand the rights of people with learning disabilities.

“Even though we’re all equal, there should be more opportunities for them.”

Speaking at the launch event, Leo Fletcher, Mayor of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, said: “It’s an absolute honour to welcome the café to the borough.

“For everyone that’s been helping and volunteering, everyone in the community, and the fantastic work you’re doing, it’s amazing.

“It’s always a struggle to start a new business but just seeing the amount of people here today I think it’s going to be a huge success.”

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Café co-founder, Kemi, said: “It’s nice to bring something new and something fresh to the community that everybody can access, not just the adults we look after.

“We’re able to encourage some of our young people to get some life skills in a real working commercial place, and we needed a collaboration like this because otherwise without Peabody’s help with the venue and the local authority chipping in to help, there’s no way I could have pulled something like this off.”

The initiative is supported by Peabody, a not-for-profit housing association, which are leading the long-term regeneration of the town, as well as Greenwich Council.

Fiona Hamilton, Community Property Manager at Peabody, said: “We’re always looking for ways that we can partner with local organisations that connect directly with the community in Thamesmead.

“Both the Camouflage Café and Brighter Futures do just that while supporting people who are often overlooked.

“We can’t wait to see how the young people working at the café develop their skills over time, and we hope to continue working with the team far into the future.”

The café menu includes croissants, sandwiches, paninis and jacket potatoes, and has plans to expand depending on customer demand.

The Camouflage Café is open at The Moorings Sociable Club, Monday to Friday from 9.30am -4.30pm.