Real-life stories

Ian Hollingsworth – Catering Assistant, Wetherby

Employee Ian Hollingsworth
Job Catering Assistant
Sector Hospitality
Company The Coffee Pot Café, nr Wetherby
When Ian’s not here people ask after him. We have a good following – lots of regular customers – and they all know him. He talks to them all.

Ian Hollingsworth works at The Coffee Pot Café near Wetherby. First thing in the morning he prepares the pasties and bakes them in the oven. During the day he’s busy greeting customers and is responsible for keeping the restaurant area tidy. 

A friendly face

In a way it’s not surprising that Ian knows many of The Coffee Pot’s regulars – he’s been working there for fourteen years. But it’s also because he makes an effort to be friendly: “Shane comes in, he’s a regular customer – I always shake his hand and say ‘nice to see you Shane, how are you?’”

Employer's story

Barbara Jakeman, the café Supervisor, is full of praise for Ian’s attention to detail and hard work, “If he’s out in the restaurant on a lunch time, we know it will be done right – all the chairs are pushed in and all the tables cleaned properly. When he goes on holiday we really miss him” she says.

Ian has a learning disability and Barbara explains that they have made some adjustments for him at work but these have been minimal and not incurred any cost. For example, he doesn’t operate the till but the team there work well together and its give-and-take with other staff members too, who cover each other where necessary to help out.

Barbara comments that Ian is so helpful they have to be careful not to take advantage of his good nature. When they’re short staffed they try not to phone him, as Ian will always agree to come in – even when he really needs a break!

Training new staff

The café is family run, with about twenty employees. Ian talks warmly about the jokes he shares with colleagues and a recent visit from the manager’s wife and children. Barbara says that Ian gets on well with everyone who works at the café – which includes students working at the weekends and men from the nearby prison. The Coffee Pot also takes other disabled people on work placements.

Ian is also the best person to train new staff in the tasks he does so well, such as preparing the pasties. “He’ll show them exactly what to do, how long to cook them for, where to get the eggwash. He’s brilliant, he really is” says Barbara.

The specialist recruitment agency Remploy placed Ian at The Coffee Pot and he doesn’t require any additional support to do his job.

Message to other employers

Commenting about employing disabled people: “Just go ahead with it. We’ve never, ever had a problem. We’re 100 per cent behind it.”

Barbara Jakeman, Supervisor, The Coffee Pot Café

Employee's story

Ian, who’s 36, went into catering after leaving school and has never been out of a job. After working in various restaurants he went to Dr B’s, a café in Harrogate that trains young people, to gain some qualifications.

Enthusiasm pays off

He first came to The Coffee Pot in 1993, to work for two days a week on a temporary placement. The management there were so impressed that within a fortnight they’d offered him a full-time job.

Ian says that his job can be very hard work. On summer weekends the large café and all the outside tables may be full, and they also provide business lunches and buffets for parties. But he enjoys working in catering and the bustling café environment suits his positive outlook and sociable nature. “It’s a good thing” he says, “I get on with the customers superbly, you know”.

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Ian outside the with employer Linda

Ian tidying up the outside picnic tables

Employer - Barbara Jakeman

Ian clearing cups onto a tray inside