After opening in May 2011, the café is thriving thanks to loyal customers and baristas who offer friendly service with a smile.
Situated on “The Bridge” within Westfield Shopping Centre, this café offers picturesque views overlooking the waterfront, in a relaxed environment away from the hustle of shoppers, as well as free Wifi access and a child play area.
As one of the first social inclusion franchises in Geelong, owned by Pathways Rehabilitation and support services, Paula Allan (Marketing and Promotions Coordinator of MadCap Café Geelong), says the sense of community cohesion prevalent in Geelong is overwhelming.
“MadCap has been welcomed with open arms and has become a part of the Westfield Geelong culture,” she says. “MadCap Café Geelong has a significant impact on the community by engaging local people living with a mental illness who are ready to explore vocation, training and employment options.”
MadCap Café Geelong employs 27 staff, primarily sourced via MadCap’s connection with Disability employment services and Job networks, and consists of trainees, permanent part-time and casual staff that have been affected by mental health.
“The café aims to reduce the stigma attached to mental health by conveying a very clear message that mental illness is common in our community,” says Paula. “People with a mental illness or disorder are frequently discriminated against in the workforce. Consequently people with a mental illness will often not disclose their condition to any potential employer, seeking instead to hide their condition and its effects. This usually leads to a breakdown in the workplace when individuals experience an episode of acute illness.”
Paula says MadCap offers a safe place for those experiencing mental health issues, giving people a chance to recover and thrive by accessing the benefits of being involved, rather than being pushed to the fringe of society.
On a visit to MadCap Café Geelong, customers can expect to be served the Geelong house blend, roasted fortnightly by Kakaloka Coffee Company in Campbellfield. Paula say this blend comes from the highlands of Peru and Sumatra and is “slow roasted to create a coffee that is robust in flavor for milk-based coffee, with a hint of caramel and chocolate with a rich golden crema”.
MadCap Geelong Manager, Louise Upham has worked in hospitality for nearly 35 years and says one of the greatest parts of her job is the joy she gets by listening to customers tell the baristas how great the coffee is.
Thanks to these compliments, Louise says seeing an individual transform into a confident person who is able to take on the workforce is also greatly rewarding.
“This café is the start of a journey to recovery,” she says. “It is a flexible workplace allowing employees to work out their problems while continuing to develop skills and self esteem.”