Prisilla Kwakye
Prisilla Kwakye said she was "really excited" to make new friends

Four baristas who are deaf are to start new jobs in London as part of a South African-based scheme to create work opportunities for deaf people.

They will be based at four WeWork office locations in Holborn and Covent Garden and will use an iPad to show customers how to order through sign language.

One of the baristas, Prisilla Kwakye, 21, from Croydon, said she was "really excited", having previously faced difficulties finding a job.

The four baristas start next week.

The scheme is the brainchild of Gary Hopkins, 58, from Cape Town, South Africa.

Seven years ago he founded a social enterprise called I Love Coffee, which trains deaf people to become baristas, and has since helped more than 100 individuals.

He said the scheme gives its participants "the confidence to reach their goals and explore other job opportunities", including computer science and project management courses.

'Build my confidence'

Ms Kwakye, who starts on 6 February, said becoming a barista would open new doors for her.

"I can build my confidence up, upskill myself and maybe in the future set up my own business. So the opportunities are endless," she said.

Before being helped by I Love Coffee, Ms Kwakye said she experienced "a lot of rejections" and that having to contact companies through an interpreter "creates barriers".

"Companies like this are really important as they create job opportunities for the deaf community that we wouldn't normally have."

She added she was looking forward to making new friends "and have conversations with customers about signing".

Prisilla Kwakye and Gary Hopkins

Gary Hopkins (r) said Prisilla Kwakye was "the perfect candidate" for the scheme

It's hoped more baristas will be trained as the scheme expands. But Mr Hopkins said he hopes for a world without I Love Coffee "because then it means we've actually created that bridge between the hearing and the deaf".

"We have seen our baristas grow beyond where they started and that is always a joy for us."

Mathieu Proust, chief operating officer for international at WeWork, said he was looking forward to seeing I Love Coffee's "positive work for the deaf community ripple across the capital".


From BBC




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