FOUR young people with learning disabilities started their first jobs this week thanks to an Oxford cafe.

Darren Doncaster, Hannah Harrison, Anthony Langdon and Ian Rigsby have all been taken on as apprentices at the Yellow Submarine cafe.

The cafe was helped by a grant from the Oxford Mail’s parent company Gannett.

Working 20 hours a week for 78 weeks at the Park End Street centre, the four apprentices will have full employment rights and be paid a weekly salary.

Yellow Submarine believes this will make it the largest, and possibly the only, employer of apprentices with learning disabilities in Oxfordshire.

Chief executive Toby Staveley said apprenticeships were the best stepping stone to long-term employment.

He said: “An 18-month apprenticeship will be totally transformative for these individuals.”

One barrier for people with learning disabilities is that apprenticeships usually require all participants to have reached Level 1 in Maths and English.

Yellow Submarine charity, which organises residential holidays and short breaks, day trips and classes for young people and adults with learning disabilities, opened its cafe last March.

It was helped by a £10,000 grant from the Mail’s parent company’s chairtable wing the Gannett Foundation, and has also received funding from Lloyds Bank Foundation, the Margaret Dobson Further Education Trust, and the St Michael’s & All Saints’ Charities.

Ian Rigsby, 25, who has learning difficulties, said he had a great time at his first day of work at the cafe on Monday.

He said: “It feels really good.

“I did a bit of paperwork but I’m looking forward to making food as well. I like the staff here because they are funny and make me laugh.”

Managers are working with Abingdon and Witney College to provide the four apprenticeships.

Mr Staveley added: “We are delighted to have taken this exciting step and have full confidence that people with learning disabilities can perform the roles required of them within an apprenticeship.”



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