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  • Writer's pictureGerry Monaghan

Catering trainee Daniel Purse tells us about working at The Bobbin cafe

“I like chatting to the customers and making sure they have everything they need.” Daniel Purse, aged 22 from North Belfast, is a catering trainee with NOW Group where he works in The Bobbin Cafe at Belfast City Hall one day per week while also studying for a NVQ qualification in catering. Daniel has a learning difficulty and was unsure what the future would hold after he left school, his placement is allowing him to gain work experience and he hopes to go on to work in catering. 

Improved opportunities 

Daniel first got involved with NOW Group when he left school and wasn’t sure what direction to take next. NOW support people with learning difficulties and autism through a range of services including employment support, training and helping transition from full time education. It was while on the transition programme that Daniel found out NOW offer a catering training programme which provides practical work experience in one of their social enterprise cafes, Loaf Cafe and Bakery on the Grosvenor Road and The Bobbin in City Hall, as well as the opportunity to gain an accredited qualification.

Daniel has now been working in Loaf for over a year and enjoys having the opportunity to gain new skills and socialise. In the cafe he helps stock the fridge, clears tables and prepares food. 

“I like working in The Bobbin because you get to see all sorts of people. There are tourists, local people and councillors all coming through. I’ve made lots of friends through my placement.

“He’s out there enjoying life”

John Purse, Daniel’s Dad, says that he has noticed an increase in Daniel’s independence since he began working with NOW.

“He is much more independent now than he was. I can arrange to meet him somewhere in town and just see him there, whereas before I would have had to go and meet him at the door of wherever he was leaving.

“One day Daniel had arranged to meet some friends he knows through NOW to go ten pin bowling after his work placement. He called me to arrange to meet him for lunch in between finishing work and meeting his friends, I like that he has the confidence to make plans like that now.

“Having the opportunity to work in a place like the cafe is important as he is learning new skills, developing as a young man and making friends. It is reassuring to know he is doing well and enjoying life, he could be just sitting in the house by himself.”

Catering trainee opportunities available 

NOW Group currently have catering trainee opportunities available for people with a learning difficulty or autism. Students get the opportunity to learn the theory of catering by studying towards an NVQ for half a day during the week as well as gaining practical in one of Loaf’s cafes or outside catering business for one day per week. 

If you would like to find out more get in touch with Anne Cheevers on 028 9043 6400 or email This project is part funded through the European Social Fund Programme 2014 – 2020, the Department for the Economy and the Department for Communities.

NOW Group recently won Social Enterprise of the Year at the Belfast Business Awards and is the parent organisation of Loaf Cafes and Catering which run The Bobbin cafe in City Hall, Loaf Cafe and Bakery on the Grosvenor Road opposite the entrance to the Royal Victoria Hospital and Loaf Catering an outside catering business delivering fresh food across Belfast, find out more at 

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