IF you’ve been along to the Broomhouse Café, you may have had the fortune to meet one of its most popular and long serving members of staff, Cher Collins.
Cher, 26, has Down’s syndrome and has been an active member of the café’s catering team since 2015, working two days a week making delicious fresh scones and serving customers throughout a busy day.
The Café is part of the Broomhouse Centre, a charity which support life-long learning, social inclusion and welfare, serving the community in the South West Neighbourhood Partnership Area of Edinburgh.
Cher said: “I really enjoy my work at the café – it’s good to work beside so many friendly people and make new friends. It’s hard work but great to see smiles on people’s faces when they have a cup of tea and fresh scone.”
Cher enjoys an independent life. She was previously involved in a project called Friends Connect, an initiative set up by Down’s Syndrome Scotland that encourages people with Down’s to meet up, make new friends and take part in new activities in their community. Through this project, which finished in 2017, Cher has gained a great deal of confidence and self-belief – she has made a number of close friends and attends a dance class once a week to keep fit.
Cher is also one of the Commissioner’s for the World Down Syndrome Congress which takes place at the Glasgow SECC from 25 -27 July. Since September, she has been preparing for her role, including introducing speakers, hosting workshops and assisting delegates.
Between Sunday and March 24, Cher’s work at the Broomhouse Café becomes even more significant as Down’s Syndrome Scotland launches its annual Awareness Week to tackle entrenched stigmas about the condition.
This year, the charity is shining a light on the issue of low employment opportunities for people with Down’s syndrome and other learning disabilities.
According to the Scottish Commission for Learning Disabilities (SCLD), the employment rate for people with a learning disability sits between 5-25 per cent, compared to Scotland’s national employment rate of 73 per cent. Down’s Syndrome Awareness Week will highlight this issue, promoting the need to support the transition from education to employment for people with Down’s syndrome. They are asking employers to see the whole person and not just someone’s Down’s syndrome.
Lyndsey Fischer, café learning and development officer at The Broomhouse Centre, said: “Cher is a valued member of our team. It has been great to see her skills and confidence develop.”
Cher said: “My work is important to me. There should be more jobs for people with learning disabilities.”