Council plans coffee truck to develop opportunities for special needs students in Brentwood

Pupils with special educational needs in Brentwood are set to be given a taste of the working world in the freshest way yet – a mobile coffee van.

Brentwood Borough Council is brewing an opportunity to buy a coffee truck in a deal with Grove House to teach students from Brentwood special needs schools important skills in employment for when they leave school.

Skills developed by operating the truck would not just include customer roles but also others such as accounting, stock handling and food hygiene standards.

However, the council insists that this would be “first and foremost” about products that people will want to buy.

A council report ahead of a meeting this Friday (October 1) said: “Whilst the venture is primarily a social impact venture it should be able to stand on its own two feet and be competitive.

“It will not be promoted directly as a social impact venture,” the council adds in a report to be discussed on Friday.

It is currently working with a well-known coffee supplier while products such as baked goods will be secured from local suppliers wherever possible.

Whilst primarily a customer facing function, other skills that would be developed in the partnership would include ordering and supply chains, stocking, accounting for sales, cash handling, customer service skills, sales & marketing, food hygiene standards and food preparation and barista skills.

There are initial talks underway as to how classroom resource at Grove School will also be used to underpin the hands-on experience with classroom-based time around some of the business management aspects.

The council report added: “The desired outcome is employability for students as they leave the school.

“Approaching a potential employer with both skills and work experience will put students in a much stronger position to secure gainful employment.”

The coffee truck would be located at the front of the Town Hall from which the council would earn an annual pitch fee of approximately £5,000 and fund the financing costs of the vehicle investment.

As the numbers of staff at the town hall steadily increases it is envisaged staff and visitors will find this a convenient location for coffee and food.

Footfall passing the town hall is generally strong during peak hours for students, Brentwood School and Brentwood County High are both very close.

The coffee truck can also be taken to community events such as Strawberry Fayre, Business Showcase, lighting up and family fun days.

A spokesman for the SEAX Trust – a multi academy trust of four academies of which Grove House is one – said: “We have been in discussion with the council to develop opportunities for our young people with special educational needs and we are very excited about developing relationships.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter