New Graduates Celebrate Their Success At The Usual Place, Dumfries

A joyous gathering of new graduates was finally able to go ahead at The Usual Place, Dumfries in October to celebrate the huge achievements of young people with additional support needs who have successfully completed SVQ qualifications during the past three years.

Seventeen graduates who have all worked and studied in the award-winning, values-based café at The Usual Place, Academy Street, took to the stage to receive their certificates presented by Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Hardip Singh Atwal and Chief Executive of Inspired Community Enterprise Trust, Heather Hall. Almost a hundred people gathered for this special event to support the young people and share in their celebration.

Graduating with SVQ qualifications in Professional Cookery and Hospitality, the Class of 2022 included twelve young people with additional support needs who have worked with The Usual Place’s SVQ Coordinator, Gail Kempsell and SVQ Mentor, Fiona Horsburgh, as well as members of staff on the kitchen and front of house teams who are also day-to-day mentors. Many of these mentors have also elected to study the SVQ and some received their certificates on stage alongside the young people this month.

Graduating in October 2022 in Professional Cookery were David McAleese, Debbie Reidie, Ian Shaw, Lynda Whipp, Morgan Deer, Sheila Jardine and Ross Frame. Those graduating in Hospitality were Meg Ayres, Alison Boyes, Bronwyn McIlwean, Gavin McRobert, Jessica Johnstone, Steven Carmichael, James Roydes, Dougal Kirkpatrick and David Whitaker.

One young graduate, Luke Smith, received two certificates, having completed both qualifications, and achieving the highest mark from anyone, including all the mentors, in Health and Safety and Food Safety. Luke is now in employment with Inspired Community Enterprise Trust as a Lived Experience Trainer.

The SVQ qualifications require the young people to learn and develop a variety of skills and understanding across a wide range of important areas which they apply every day in their work at The Usual Place. From an in-depth understanding of food safety and hygiene, to preparing and cooking using complex, hot and sharp equipment to following recipes, results the young people being able to create wonderful food and drinks for satisfied customers as a practical application.

The whole team also work hard to provide excellent customer care and attention to detail, as well as resilience and being able to adapt to the situations that can arise when working with the public. They do all this alongside professional mentors in practical situations as well as studying theory, keeping reflective workbooks, providing photographic evidence of their experience and undergoing assessment by observation with Chef Assessor, Tony Budde, who presented the certificates at the Graduation Ceremony.

The Usual Place is a busy, award-winning café serving customers with a wide range of hot and cold meals, soups cakes, scones, afternoon teas and drinks. All produce is freshly cooked, baked and prepared by the team on the premises in the beautifully refurbished church on Academy Street.

Many customers are great supporters of the ethos of the café, however, few people really grasp the depth and breadth of the work that goes on behind the scenes and the huge personal achievements that go in to creating the welcoming, clean atmosphere and delicious food that so many enjoy.

The café opens Monday to Friday 9.30am – 4pm.