New coffee van launches to help boost young care leavers’ skills

Jack Nicholls and Joe Walden, with the Coffee Break van, which is helping young care leavers find wo

Jack Nicholls and Joe Walden, with the Coffee Break van, which is helping young care leavers find work and new skills. Picture: Break - Credit: Archant

A new initiative run by young care leavers has launched to help others gain the skills to improve their chances of getting work.

Jack Nicholls and Joe Walden, with the Coffee Break van, which is helping young care leavers find wo

Jack Nicholls and Joe Walden, with the Coffee Break van, which is helping young care leavers find work and new skills. Picture: Break - Credit: Archant

Jack Nicholls, from King’s Lynn, has helped kickstart the Coffee Break van with the support from children’s charity Break.

The 21-year-old has lived in care for most of his teenage years and has received support from the East Anglia-based charity over the years.

In January, he met with Joe Walden from the charity after a string of setbacks.

With Mr Walden and the charity’s help, he and other care leavers have been able to start a mobile coffee van business in lockdown with the aim to help improve their employment prospects.


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This week marks Care Leavers Week and the 21-year-old said the charity has helped him boost his confidence and feel “accomplished”.

The 21-year-old said: “When I first met Joe, I wasn’t in a very good place. I’d had a couple of jobs, but didn’t get treated very well, and ended up getting fired.

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“Getting a job was really stressful, and I’d given up looking for work after the bad experiences I’d had. Now I’m in a better place. I love being involved in the Coffee Break project because no-one judges you and there’s time for everyone to develop at their own pace.

“I feel accomplished and a lot more confident now.”

The Coffee Break van will run two days a week in Norwich and is managed and staffed by young care leavers aged between 17 and 21.

Mr Walden, Break’s enterprise and youth development lead, has helped to mentor Jack and a team of five other youngsters.

Mr Walden said: “The world of work can seem scary and daunting for any 18 year old, but for someone leaving the care system, with no family support around them, it comes with lots of extra challenges.

“The Coffee Break van means young care leavers can discover what they’re really capable of, by engaging them in ‘real’ work, offering training opportunities and the chance to learn new skills which they can take with them for life, all offered in a safe space.

“These young people have essentially launched a business. Something many of them thought they would never achieve. And it’s all been done during a global pandemic.”

The van is available to hire by emailing coffee@break-charity.org

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