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The How Do I? Blog

The How Do I? Blog

#TakeFiveWith Darren Nixon

Take Five With Darren Nixon - pictured is a closeup shot of Darren smiling into the camera, with the Cafe Leep counter in the background

Take Five With Darren Nixon - pictured is a closeup shot of Darren smiling into the camera, with the Cafe Leep counter in the background

Could you tell us about yourself and your job role? And one hobby/fun fact?

I’m Darren and I have worked at Café Leep for almost four years. Before working at the cafe, I worked with people with learning disabilities for around 20 years.

My current job roles are Assistant Manager, NVQ Tutor and Social Media guy.

At Café Leep, we have four trainees with learning disabilities per day and they are trained to Level 2 NVQ Standard via our awarding body Highfield and carry out all duties that a cafe requires.

Fun fact: I love music. I was in two bands in Leeds and Indianapolis. My current obsessions are The Charlatans and Tim Burgess.


What is a typical day like for you?

There isn’t an actual typical day as we work with a range of people who have different abilities and skills.

The day however, would include helping our trainees prep food, helping them with their food safety training, supervising all food and drinks that they make to order and also on the till with money skills and finally with cleaning up.


Could you tell us how you got into your role?

I worked as a support worker for two years visiting Leep1 - the self advocacy group for people with learning disabilities once a week. I heard they were opening a cafe with adults with learning disabilities and I was immediately up for a new challenge!


What motivates you to do a good job?

I’m motivated and inspired by all our trainees who overcome a myriad of challenges to be with us.

Once they start with us they learn new skills, knowledge and above all the confidence that they can succeed!

There isn’t a week that goes by without a ‘goosebumps’ moment for me!


How do you learn at work?

I learn by being patient, believing and listening.


What are your aims for the next year? For example, if you work in accessibility do you have any plans to help make workplaces more inclusive? If you work in Learning and Development how are you going to promote workplace learning?

We are always looking to grow. We know that things don’t happen overnight. We’ve put in four years of hard work here. We’ve had 30 people from learning disability backgrounds pass with us and 10 people placed at new positions in Leeds cafes and kitchens in the past 2 years.

We plan to carry on doing this, being patient and sending out fully trained people to future employers.

We are also hoping to expand our training with more e-learning initiatives to become 100% digital in respect of our membership with OnLine Centres Network.

We also aim to carry on with our food partnership with Fareshare helping save waste food and benefit the local community with great food specials and cooking groups.

We also have had some successful work experience placements with high school students. Two of our most recent placements have been so great showing that the skill set and passion starts early!


Cafe Leep website:

Cafe Leep Twitter Account: @CafeLeep


Would you like to share your story or raise awareness about the work you’re doing? Do you know someone in the tech, design, accessibility, inclusion or learning and development sector who would like to tell their story in the #TakeFiveWith series? Contact Zeinab at