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Fly Cup: The Inverurie cafe brewing up equal opportunities

Food for thought: The Fly Cup in Inverurie is run by adults with learning disabilities.
Picture by Chris Sumner
Food for thought: The Fly Cup in Inverurie is run by adults with learning disabilities. Picture by Chris Sumner

Equality is always the dish of the day at the Fly Cup Catering.

Together with delicious cakes, breakfasts, brunches and lunches, the Blackhall Industrial Estate community cafe is also serving up life-changing opportunities for adults with learning disabilities.

From making scones in the bakery and rustling up mouthwatering paninis in the kitchen to packing up delivery orders and waiting on tables, the trainees – who are mentored by staff and volunteers – have proved they have the recipe for success.

General manager Jacky Niven says it’s great to see the trainees thrive at Fly Cup. Picture by Chris Sumner

Run as a charity – with all the money raised going back into training the adults and investing in the top class facility – Society caught up with general manager Jacky Niven to find out more about the inspiring cafe and how it’s changing people’s lives.

How would you describe Fly Cup?

Fly Cup Catering is a charity and social enterprise that has been open for 22 years – 10 years on this site – offering support and training for adults with learning disabilities. But most importantly, it’s a place for everybody.

It needs to be a safe and nurturing space but also a place for all the community. The adults are involved with everything in the cafe from working in the bakery and making lunch in the kitchen to packaging up orders for delivery and serving customers.

Sweet tooth: Tasty traybakes are always popular at Fly Cup. Picture by Chris Sumner

We have 36 trainees at the moment and a team of staff and volunteers who mentor them. People come here because they have a good positive experience and can enjoy good food.

Have you always worked with charities?

Well, I’ve got quite an eclectic background as my previous job was working as a development officer for the Rural Partnership based in the Kincardine and Mearns area.

Piece of cake: The victoria sponge cake always goes down well with customers. Picture by Chris Sumner

The role was about supporting third sector (charities) and community groups. I’ve got my own blog called Third Sector Talk so I’ve always really pushed to have the third sector voice heard and try and make a difference on the bigger stage.

So when the opportunity arose to work at Fly Cup I jumped at the chance as it is somewhere you can where really make a difference to people’s lives.

Is all the food made by the trainees?

Yes, the aim is that the trainees do the bulk of the work so that could be making cakes in the bakery or rustling up lunch in the kitchen or preparing afternoon tea.

Some of our trainees are happy to come here and have a meaningful experience and there are some who are keen to get into the workplace and we’ll support them with that.

Bananarama: A cup of tea and a slice of banana cake is a match made in heaven. Picture by Chris Sumner

There definitely needs to be more work done so businesses are supported to be able to accommodate people with learning disabilities.

I know there’s plenty of businesses who are willing but just don’t have the capacity to do it. So with more work on that side of things is necessary.

Can you tell us about your new brunch menu?

Yes, we’ve got quite an exciting brunch menu which has been really popular. So we’ve got dishes like French toast with berries, Greek yoghurt and maple syrup or it can be made more savoury. We also have eggs benedict with English muffins topped with poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce with bacon or smoked salmon.

We also do Croque monsieur which is a grilled cheese sandwich with bechamel sauce with ham and cheese on top.

The croque monsieur is a grilled cheese sandwich with bechamel sauce, ham and cheese on top. Picture by Chris Sumner

I absolutely love Croque monsieur, it’s my favourite. We also do a monte Cristo which is a similar dish but with French toast.

Also popular is our Sean Special. Sean is one of our trainees and he came up with this dish which is a toasted breakfast sandwich with crispy bacon, sausages, fluffy scrambled eggs and cheese.

The pancakes are amazing too which are served with either crispy bacon and maple syrup or berries and cream.

And what’s on the menu for lunch?

Our macaroni and stovies is very popular. We’re all about simple food cooked well.

We also do salads, jacket potatoes, sandwiches, toasties and paninis with loads of fillings to choose from.

Cracking dish: The eggs benedict is a popular choice. Picture by Chris Sumner

There’s also soup and sandwich deals and kids can get a sandwich, apple or orange juice with a yoghurt, crisps and raisins for £3.50. We also have a specials board with soup of the day, main courses and desserts.

We also have a lunch meal deal which includes a sandwich, bag of crisps and a can of juice or a tea or coffee for £3.50.

What about cakes?

The scones are very popular, we often sell out the scones by lunchtime. We do lots of different flavours of scones like carrot cake.

We’ve also got things like cheesecake, tablet, traybakes, carrot cake and pavlova which are all really popular as well. We’ve also just invested in an edible printer so we’ll be able to do more bespoke birthday cake and things.

All the right ingredients: There’s never a shortage of cakes at Fly Cup. Picture by Chris Sumner

We’ve also heard your afternoon tea is to die for?

We do a standard afternoon tea and a deluxe afternoon tea. So with your standard afternoon tea, there are things like vol-au-vents, sausage rolls, traybakes and mini pancakes.

In the deluxe afternoon tea you’ll get the quiches, chocolate brownies, mini meringues, victoria sponge cake, scones and a selection of sandwiches as well.

You can’t visit Fly Cup without sampling one of their tasty traybakes. Picture by Chris Sumner

Community spirit is always on the menu isn’t it?

Yes, the community have really taken ownership of the cafe so there’s always a real community feel.

This is illustrated on our Facebook page as we’ve got 4,000 or so followers and while sometimes it’s an artificial community for us, those people are the ones who are coming through our doors.

The cafe is warm and welcoming. Picture by Chris Sumner

For instance, if I put up online that we have chicken burger Tuesday, people will come in on the back of that. Or if we put up a photo of a pavlova that will go quickly.

The community have been a massive support. At Christmas time we had a lady who put together some lovely hampers which we raffled off to raise funds and one of the trainee’s mums made lovely glass tree ornaments to sell.

Does it bring you a lot of joy to work at such an amazing charity?

Yes, it does – you can see the things that you’re doing are actually making a big difference.

Jacky is excited about the prospect of providing even more opportunities for the wider community.<br />Picture by Chris Sumner.

What are your plans for the future?

We’re moving forward with programmes that will support people with learning difficulties and other barriers to employment.

At the moment we’ve got a lovely man from Syria who has resettled over here which is fantastic. We’ve also got four young people who are with us on the Young Person’s Guarantee project which aims to provide opportunities for young people which has been excellent.

For more information about Fly Cup Catering check out their website, Facebook or Instagram.

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