Ocean Views Mental Facility cafeteria was launched yesterday alongside a sheltered employment scheme headed by local charity ‘Positive Pathways’.
Positive Pathways is part of Clubhouse Gibraltar and assists people with mental health issues and get them back into work.
Sheltered employment aims to provide people with an understanding environment as well as the opportunity to learn new skills within the cafeteria at Ocean Views.
The cafeteria was unveiled yesterday by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, Minister for Health and Care Neil Costa and Minister for Education Dr John Cortes.
“I think that Positive Pathways and Clubhouse in particular have done incredibly important work in ensuring that there is excellent understanding and much better knowledge of mental health issues,” Mr Costa said.
Mr Costa added that the charity should be “extremely proud” of their work in securing the tender for the cafeteria.
“There has been a lot of work by Positive Pathways and Clubhouse in dispelling the many myths that are associated with mental health issues,” Mr Costa said.
“In the past there have been elements that have been taboo but now mental health issues are discussed openly.”
Darryl Britto from Positive Pathways told the Chronicle it took two years between the tender process and getting the cafeteria running.
Positive Pathways have sought sponsors and received EU funding that has enabled the charity to start-up the business.
The employment is open depending on people’s capabilities meaning that a person can chose to work a few hours a week or a 30 hour week, it is up to them.
“We are targeting people who have been long-term unemployed who have had mental health difficulties as some of them might not have that routine that we take for granted,” said Mr Britto.
“The idea for us is that we would be supportive and understanding, rather them going into full-time employment and having that anxiety.”
Mr Britto described how the team will be a “safety net” for those taking the first steps into employment.
“We purposely kitted out the cafeteria with industrial equipment of the kind that can be found in other bars and cafeterias,” said Manager of Ocean Views Chris Chipolina.
“This is in its initial stages and our aim is to expand the programme to other areas such as gardening. It will make a big difference to Ocean Views and we are very much looking forward to it.”
The cafeteria is open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 6pm and on Saturdays and Sundays between 10am and 4pm.
It is open for the public, including people using facilities at Ocean Views, Bella Vista and Hillside.