Grand Opening: The New Community Café at Riverside School

21 February 2022

On 9th February 2022, Riverside School in Orpington officially launched its community café, The Riverside Lounge, providing skills-boosting jobs for pupils and much-needed financial support for the school.

FFT’s Shane Jeeves, Emma Carr and Lynn Bekir were lucky enough to attend the official opening of The Riverside Lounge on 9th February, witnessing the coming to life of the school’s vision for a community café that would enable pupils, staff and the wider community to come together and pupils to develop valuable work related, independent skills.

Riverside School is an excellence-driven, highly supportive place for pupils with special educational needs. One of the school’s aims is to ensure everyone who spends time there leaves as confident, lifelong learners who are set to succeed, flourish and leave their mark on society. This they do courtesy of a bespoke package of profoundly personalised support.

Valuable skills development for pupils

Pupils in years 10-14 were involved in every aspect of the planning, preparation and running of The Riverside Lounge, which is housed within the school premises. From making the furniture to choosing the background music, from deciding which items to buy, taste testing and making food, to waiting tables and working the till, the skills developed throughout the entire process have, according to the school, been ‘incredible to see’.

The café will provide jobs for pupils, and act as a way to support the school financially, as well as providing a welcoming place to enjoy a bite to eat, a drink and a good chat.

A thank you for vital funding

Back in planning stage, having created their own business plan for the café, the children made a very impressive and convincing presentation, setting out their needs for the venture. Some of those needs included a display fridge, a hot display case, a counter and a cash register, together with aprons and catering hats, all of which FFT agreed to fund as part of our Twenty for Twenty People Skills Development theme.

FFT theme ambassador Shane Jeeves says, “We have always been proud to support Riverside School. It is such an inspirational place, with the staff so dedicated to understanding the children’s needs, to motivating them and to making them happy.

“The Riverside Lounge will provide an amazing opportunity for the children to develop vital skills and build confidence that could easily shape their futures in a workplace setting. With this in mind, we are incredibly proud to have been able to support the café, and we look forward to seeing it thrive along with the wonderful pupils at Riverside School.”