A TEAM of young trainee baristas from Autism Unlimited are offering their new-found skills to the community.

The students, who attend the charity’s Portfield School Sixth Form in Christchurch, are part of the ‘Brew Crew’ - an initiative to equip young people with practical work experience.

Small teams of students are enjoying ten-week courses with tutor Tim Hewitt - a former Barista with more than 20 years experience.

Lessons take place inside a former horsebox, which has been converted into a mobile coffee bar by Autism Unlimited.

Tim Hewitt said: “The Brew Crew is a great initiative where students can gain valuable insight into the world of work and enjoy hands-on experience, whilst developing and practising key life skills, including cash handling, following instructions, and cleaning.

"This boosts their CV and equips them with the tools and confidence they need for the workplace as they move towards adulthood.

“It’s also a lot of fun, great for their wellbeing, and you can see their self-esteem growing as they learn.

“It's been good to see how students have embraced the challenges of making great coffee and it’s very encouraging that some of them are already taking what they have learned in our lessons and using it in their further work experience in local cafes.”

Student Luca is partway through the course. He said: “I enjoy making coffee and frothing the milk and of course drinking it afterwards. Tim is a great teacher.

“Today we have been pouring milk slowly to make the shape of a heart. I have also been using my barista skills at my work experience placement at a café.”

Siún Cranny, CEO of Autism Unlimited, added: “The Brew Crew is an excellent addition to our Work Experience Programme, which supports our young people through various opportunities to pursue a career where they feel fulfilled and where they can flourish.

“I’m exceptionally proud of all our young baristas and feel very lucky to have tasted their coffee, the ginger one invented by one of our students is surprisingly delicious.”