A new cafe at Liverpool Library was launched last Wednesday as the latest social enterprise, part of Liverpool Neighbourhood Connections.
Pepper’s Cafe will serve as a pathway to employment for women and will hire two employees who have been through LNC’s hospitality training programs.
Since opening five years ago, LNC have employed about 500 women and currently have eight employees.
LNC chief executive Pat Hall said they named the cafe after a former employee who made a difference.
Most of the women are single parents and I think they should be proud of themselves.Pat Hall
“We had this lady called Sue Pepper and she was instrumental in starting this up and had grand ideas as a volunteer. That’s how Pepper’s place started. She was a mother who suffered from cancer and after she died we named the cafe after her.
“Most of the employees are mothers except one of our younger workers who was a foster child. Most of the women are single parents and I think they should be proud of themselves.
“Most of them have never had jobs before and now they’re working every week. There’s been lots of amazing stories that have come out of here. It’s a team effort – we have an amazing social enterprise coordinator, Lisa Buchanan.”
One woman LNC employed was Angie McConkey, who is now a single working mother of three children.
If my kids want something I want to be able to give it to them.Angie McConkey
“I was going through financial hardships with raising children and rising rent. Just to provide the basic things for the kids and day-to-day living was a struggle. If my kids want something I want to be able to give it to them.
“I’m a pensioner too and get centrelink but without the help of LNC I don’t know where I would start. I came to Australia in 2004 and never worked before,” she said.
“But working feels good and meeting people has been fun. It’s also about learning new things – like how to use a coffee machine. I enjoy doing it and I get paid for it. Getting paid helps, it makes it easier for me to cope.
“I may not be able to give my kids a big party for their birthdays but I’m still able to give them a little present and take them out for dinner or lunch now.”
Liverpool Mayor Wendy Waller said the council was offering the site at a peppercorn rent to support LNC’s community work.
“My biggest priority has always been to provide opportunities for the whole community and supporting LNC is one of many ways we are looking to do this,” Mayor Waller said.
LNC’s enterprises are all in the Liverpool region which includes a café in Warwick Farm, a contract for a school canteen, a coffee cart, a cleaning and mowing business and a second hand clothing store.