A Little Off The Beaten Track

But Paddock School Café is well worth a visit

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Paddock School Cafe
Paddock School,
Priory Lane,
SW15 5RT
0208 8781521

The café is open during term times on Wednesday mornings from 10 -12 for morning coffee and Thursdays from 10 -2 when you can also have lunch; home- made soup and sandwiches.

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I have noticed a shock of fuchsia as I drive to Roehampton Gate in Richmond Park, but yesterday I got to visit the café to join a friend for coffee and a treat with a friend who volunteers there.

The café is set in the grounds of Paddock School on Priory Lane, and includes a secluded outside seating area for those brighter days ahead of us - it was opened in September 2013. Paddock School is a special school in Roehampton for students aged 11-19 with severe learning difficulties.

Anne Frier, the teacher in with responsibility for the cafe told me:
"The café has two aims; firstly to provide work experience for older students - something that is very difficult to do outside the protective environment of school. Our students are taught the many skills of working in a café: to carry a tray, work the till, clear tables, take orders to customers, wash up and make the food that is sold in the café."

She continued:
" Secondly, and just as importantly, the café showcases the abilities of young people with learning difficulties. At Paddock School Café you will witness what our students can do, see their numerous abilities rather than focus on their disabilities. In the café are students are actively providing a service for the local community."

The welcome from the students was very warm, loads of smiles as they explained the ordering process; there is a laminated menu sheet for each table with images of the items available, you put a velcro'd image of your order in the order column and the quantity required - the students collect the order and ring up your bill for you on the till.

The coffee was generous and the fruit muffins - everything is made by the students, was the healthy option but the carrot cake was very tempting but we stayed strong! In addition the dog was giving a warm welcome as she waited patiently on the decked area by the flag pole.

On Thursdays the café is open for lunch - offering home made soups and sandwiches prepared by the students. Whilst we were there they filled up with neighbours from the surrounding estate and a visit from a group of tiny tots from the local Busy Bee nursery filling the bright café with their laughter and chitter chat!

The café is open twice a week in term times only - the students gain much needed work experience and confidence whilst the visitors gain great grub plus an insight into the work of the school and its students. So why not pop along and share their vision.

Sandi Bloomfield

March 19, 2015