The National Children of Wales Awards are delighted to be supporting The Bluestone Foundation – a foundation that works with several children’s charities to support children and their families in Wales.
The Bluestone Foundation works with Action for Children to support families from before the child is born, right up until they enter their twenties. The Foundation helped The Hawthorne Project with their start-up costs towards opening up a coffee shop at the Haverfordwest Magistrates Court.
The Hawthorne Project was established by Action for Children in August 2000, and has been supporting children and their families for almost 20 years.
The popular coffee shop, called The Hatch, was founded because there was a stark lack of opportunities for people with learning disabilities in the area to gain work experience.
The Hatch will enable young people with disabilities to gain work experience and training possibilities, allowing them to socialise with other people their age and gain confidence.
However, this is not just any other coffee shop. It is run by young people with special needs, which ensures that the young people visiting the shop will feel more comfortable and safe.
Angharad Murray, Youth Person Practitioner, has seen a huge improvement in the confidence of the young people working at The Hatch.
She said: “You can really see how their confidence has grown in even just a month. At first most didn’t even want to go near the till but now they are fighting over who serves a customer.”
Those who aren’t confident in dealing with customers can take an office role, working on stock control, management, menus, and more.
Angharad hopes that the money generated by The Hatch can be fed back into the project.
The coffee shop has had such a positive impact on the lives of the young people who work there.
Charlotte Sandford, a 17-year-old, has said that working at The Hatch is her “favourite day of the week”.
She says: “It makes me feel proud and happy when people take things I have made. And I like wearing a uniform, it makes me feel professional.”
The Hatch is clearly so important to the young people who work there. We hope that the proceeds from The Awards will help the Project reach more vulnerable young people, and help boost their confidence by gaining valuable work experience.