FRESH LOOK: Laidley Community Centre's social enterprise cafe Community Grounds was officially opened last month and promises to provide a wide range of benefits and services to the local community.
FRESH LOOK: Laidley Community Centre's social enterprise cafe Community Grounds was officially opened last month and promises to provide a wide range of benefits and services to the local community. Dominic Elsome

Social enterprise cafe promises big benefits for community

IS YOUR morning coffee leaving you with an empty feeling?

Then head to Community Grounds in Laidley, where your morning cup of joe comes with a side of helping the local community.

The Laidley Community Centre officially opened the social enterprise last month and manager Alana Wahl said they had been "overwhelmed” by the support so far.

"It's been a project that we knew we couldn't rush and so we've been delivering it in stages,” Ms Wahl said.

"It's a big achievement and very exciting to have reached the stage where we have unveiled the new name and branding and now officially opened as Community Grounds.”

The project came about when a member of the team noticed the then-Three Sons cafe was for sale.

What started out as a throw-away comment that the community centre should buy it quickly grew.

The cafe offers free Wi-Fi, an in-cafe laptop hire scheme, resumé help and training opportunities for youth, with all profits feeding back into charitable work in the region.

"Community Grounds gives us a presence in the centre of town so we can hopefully connect more people to these services and also find out what other needs exist at a community level so they can be addressed,” Ms Wahl said.

The cafe also offers the community a meeting space, after-hours function hire and includes a community art gallery, which is presently showcasing artwork from Laidley District High School students.

Ms Wahl said social enterprise would only grow from here and was looking forward to its next chapters.

"The venue is now a canvas available to the community and,while there are already some great ideas for use of the space in the future, we know that the initiatives that are most likely to be sustained over the longer term will develop organically, driven by passionate community members,” she said.

The cafe is located at 129 Patrick St, Laidley, and is open from 7am-2pm Monday to Friday and 7.30am-1pm Saturday.

NEW GENERATION: Community Grounds host student trainees.
NEW GENERATION: Community Grounds host student trainees. Dominic Elsome

Cafe prepares next- generation workers

IT'S not just fresh coffee being prepared at Community Grounds but also the next generation of workers.

The social enterprise cafe presently hosts four school-based trainees completing a Certificate III in Hospitality and one completing a Certificate III in Business Administration.

The group works one day a week doing on-the-job training as a replacement subject for school and does additional study components outside of work.

Laidley Community Centre manager Alana Wahl said the program was giving students an opportunity to gain real experience before joining the jobs market.

"Apart from the bonus of receiving regular wages, trainees get to experience what it is like to function as part of an organisation and understand workplace expectations and protocol,” Ms Wahl said.

Kylie Mariecork spent the last six months working in the cafe as part of the program and said the experience had been great.

"I love working here, it's a good community, you get along with everyone,” she said.

Kylie joined the traineeship program to gain skills and help her stand out to potential employers.

"I thought it could be a good path for my career, it's a good back-up if wanted to change my mind or a good way to start off my career,” she said.

Ms Wahl said one of the most important skills the trainees gained was customer relations, plus the ability to think on their feet and react quickly to problems.

"A general comment we have received from potential employers and members of the public is that they believe these social interaction skills are becoming less common in young people today and a project such as this is so important for that reason,” she said.

"If the project continues to develop as hoped, and where capacity allows, we will continue to offer other short-term work experience opportunities for those who are unsuccessful in securing a traineeship.”

Young jobseekers can gain help with their CV from the centre and Ms Wahl encouraged anyone looking to develop their resume and get a foot in the door to phone 5465 1889.


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