Jack's Story

While Jack has a wonderfully descriptive – and very relevant – analogy for autism – that has not always been the case. He struggled through school with undiagnosed autism, leaving him facing an uncertain future. His mum’s perseverance led to a diagnosis at 16 years old and an explanation as to why he found school so difficult.

The way I like to describe autism now is that it’s like coffee. There isn’t only one type that everyone has – there’s a variety of blends, roasts and flavours and each one is different. That’s what Autism is like.

Jack, Cafeology
Image of Jack, an autistic gentleman stood next to coffee making machinery at work

After feeling adrift through Covid, he sought support through his local job centre, but after a year he still hadn’t found a successful work placement.

Jack fortuitously attended an employment event in Sheffield where he met the Autism Plus team.

“We are delighted to support Jack on a weekly basis grow and develop in his role. We’ve developed a really positive relationship with his employer. It’s been wonderful seeing his skills and confidence grow and it’s exciting to think about where he will be in the future.”

Tom, Jack's specialist employment coach

Little did Jack know that a few miles away Cafeology’s finance director Toni was putting the wheels in motion to find an apprentice.

After a conversation with a friend who employs a number of people with autism, we felt we wanted to support someone with autism looking for work by creating a role within our team.

Toni, Cafeology

But it was not plain sailing. Toni soon came up against not being able to find a suitable apprentice course or provider.

Determination led her to National Food and Drink Training (NFDT) – the training arm of Scottish Bakers – a specialist provider of apprenticeships and other skills and training programmes to the UK’s food and drink manufacturing industry.

NFDT training Advisor Louise shared Toni’s determination to put something in place that would work for Jack.

We decided Jack’s best course of action would be working towards his Level 2 Diploma in food and drink operations, which can be applied to coffee production.

Jack is well supported by ourselves as an education provider, by Cafeology with their set-up and ethos and by backing from Autism Plus – it’s knitted together incredibly well.

picture of a young man with a hair net on pouring coffee beans into the top of a machine

With daily support at Cafeology, weekly visits from Tom and fortnightly meetings with Louise, Jack is a thriving and valued member of ‘Teamology.’

His daily responsibilities include de-stoning roasted coffee, weighing green and roasted products and packing orders. He also recently spoke at the launch of the first Autism Plus Cafe in Easingwold, near York.

Image of chairman of North Yorkshire council with a big gold chain on shaking hands with Jack an autistic gentleman

My dream is to become a fully trained coffee roaster, but for now I’m enjoying being part of a team, learning about the origins of coffee and understanding the journey it has to go through.

Jack, Cafeology
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