A County Durham firm has made a vital donation to a community café that helps people with special needs.

Workwear Express – based near Durham City – made the donation to Learning for Life, a Consett-based charity that prepares youngsters with special educational needs and difficulties for adult life.

The charity’s clients have a diverse and complex range of needs and disabilities.

The charity’s learners used to help volunteers run the Oasis Café in the old Citizens’ House, Consett. But thanks to lottery funding being secured, the café has now moved to a purpose-built facility.

The café is now called the Oasis for Life Café and the Learning for Life clients have returned to help run it. Working in the café will give the youngsters regular hands-on work experience in a friendly community environment.

To help prepare the learners for their new duties, Workwear Express – which specialises in making uniforms – has donated 20 brand new aprons, all of which feature the café’s new name and logo printed on the front.

The donation came about when the principal and head of services at Learning for Life – Marie Matthewson – attended the same training course as Joanne Hughes, a social media executive at Workwear Express. Joanne was quick to offer a helping hand ahead of the café’s grand opening.

Marie said, “We’re so grateful for the help we’ve received from Workwear Express because we couldn’t have afforded any uniform without their help.”

“It’s absolutely vital to have smart, practical uniforms with the right branding because what we want to relay is that the café is a professional organisation.”

“The young people working at the café have disabilities, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a professional workplace. If they have access to a smart uniform, it will do wonders for their self-esteem.”

“They were delighted when the aprons arrived. Their faces just lit up. They could not believe that’s what they were going to be wearing for work. It was really uplifting to see our young people so proud of what they’re wearing.”

Megan Brown, one of the learners who will be wearing the new uniform, said, “I like the workwear aprons because they make me feel professional and they keep my clothes clean.”

Joanne Hughes said, “We’re so pleased that everyone at Learning for Life is happy with their new branded aprons. We wanted to help the young learners feel confident, professional and ready for anything as they take these first steps into the world of work.”

“The ethos at Learning for Life is actually very similar to our own values here at Workwear Express; we both know how important it is to provide young people with a welcoming and open space to invest the time and effort in building their skills and confidence to allow them to really flourish in the workplace.”

“Workwear Express embroiders over 60,000 garments every single week. It’s important for us to remember that behind each of those stitches is a story to tell and a purpose to fulfil.”

“Learning for Life has already done so much for young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and the opening of the Oasis for Life Café is the next step in their inspiring journey. We’re thrilled to be supporting this amazing project.”

The Oasis for Life Café plans to open its doors on June 22nd in the new Citizens’ House, Consett. The café will be open to the public from 11.00 am to 3.00 pm.

Founded in 1990, Workwear Express – based at Belmont Industrial Estate, near Durham City – produces personalised workwear, uniforms and promotional clothing. The company offers over 7,000 products and print, embroidery and transfer services.

To find out more about Workwear Express, please go to https://www.workwearexpress.com/ or telephone 0808 231 5852.

(The featured image shows (L-R) Margaret Thompson, Vicky Penaluna, Sylvia Lewins, Matthew Cooke and Richard Lewins from the Oasis for Life Café with Joanne Hughes and Heather Podmore from Workwear Express.)

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