Being announced as a finalist for the 2021 Tasmanian Disability Festival Awards means a lot for the Cafe Next Door in Kings Meadows.
Nominated for the Excellence in Education and Training category, the Cafe Next Door's owners have prided themselves on providing a place of learning and confidence building for those with disabilities in Launceston.
Owner and manager Vanessa Mitchell said the cafe was a place to learn skills, not just for working in a cafe, but for life.
"We support and employ people who have additional and special needs," Mrs Mitchell said.
"We have 16 workers come throughout the week. Some of them stay for one hour, some of them stay for six hours, depending on their capacity.
"We train our workers in the hospitality sector by teaching them skills, which they can then put into everyday independence.
"Cooking, making coffees, chatting and serving customers and cleaning responsibilities teach them valuable life skills.
"There a range of disabilities and background that the wonderful workers have, from an intellectual disability or autism across to mental health issues and anxiety."
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Mrs Mitchell said that giving workers a go and seeing their growth was not only rewarding for the cafe, but for the individuals.
"We are extremely proud and excited to be a finalist in the Education and Training category as that is the main focus for the cafe and our workers."
Organisers said the Tasmanian Disability Awards were held to recognise those who have gone above and beyond to provide outstanding service and support to people with disabilities.
Festival co-director Dan Ryan said deciding on the finalists was proving to be a difficult process for the judging panel.
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"In the inaugural year of the Tasmanian Disability Festival Awards, we are extremely pleased to be able to recognise some of the wonderful contributions that are being made to the disability sector by both organisations and individuals alike."
Other categories in the awards include Excellence in the Arts, Outstanding Contribution by a Young Person and Outstanding Carer of the Year.
Winners will be announced at a gala dinner on December 3 at the Country Club Casino in Launceston.
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