The newly renovated café at Armagh Planetarium & Observatory, the ‘Cosmic Coffee Dock’, has partnered with local Social Enterprise, ‘The Gathering Rooms’ to supply its freshly baked treats. Visitors can now indulge in a selection of homemade cakes and buns freshly baked by the young adults who are on placement at the organisation.

The Gathering Rooms, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund Empowering Young People and supported by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, is a place where young adults with an Autism diagnosis meet in a safe and friendly space.

Gathering Rooms

The project is designed to support young people between the ages of 16-25 to train in a workplace setting, develop social skills and build confidence. This specific training will provide opportunities to experience a working environment in both the Eating Rooms and Print Room.

The café at Armagh Planetarium orders freshly prepared buns, scones and traybakes as well as ordering catering for corporate lunches and small events.

Project Manager at The Gathering Rooms, Brenda Fox said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the café at the Planetarium. It’s a real boost for the young people to be given this opportunity to further develop their skills. The Gathering Rooms provides a safe environment for each young person to experience varying job roles including baking in the kitchen, preparing food and also serving customers. The staff are extremely supportive and mindful of each person’s needs, so they are always at hand to avoid any young person becoming anxious or overwhelmed.”

L – R Holly and Pauline from Gathering Rooms with Helen and Ria from AOP

Helen McLoughlin, Senior Education Officer at Armagh Observatory and Planetarium said: “We are delighted to support such a fantastic project and it’s a real treat to know that the young people get such enjoyment from baking for us. We get positive feedback from customers, which really is the icing on the cake! Knowing that we can purchase food locally from our friends at The Gathering Rooms is very important to us and we look forward to receiving our order each day!”

‘The Print Room’ is another project that provides training in design and card making as well as all other printing needs. Young people there will gain social skills, enabling them to interact with customers, and initiating conversation; those important attributes that will assist in everyday life.


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