Coproduction – Ben’s story

Throughout co-production week we’re sharing stories of success from our services. Through Sparky’s café, our social enterprise in Guildford, Ben has learned new skills and greatly increased his confidence.

For seven months Ben, 33, has been working at Sparky’s café in Guildford. Ben, who has a learning difficulty, began with Sparky’s following a successful interview and has since made great progress in his new role.

Since starting at the café, Ben has learnt a range of new skills, made new friends and discovered a passion for his new vocation. Ben said:

“Since starting work at Sparky’s, I have learnt a wealth of valuable new skills and I’ve really developed my confidence.”

In his role, Ben has developed culinary skills, knowledge of professional health and hygiene standards for catering as well as a talent for customer interaction.

Maria Ruiz, Team Leader at Sparky’s, said:

“Ben really enjoys having the freedom to travel independently on the train into Guildford, and the daily interaction with staff and customers has improved his self esteem immensely. We’re exceptionally proud of his achievements.”

Sparky’s café has embraced co-production in the way it involves people it supports in how the café operates as well as the events it runs. Maria added:

“Sparky’s Café provides a community hub where people can go for a relaxing chat with friends, as well as providing people with health and wellbeing advice, ranging from healthy eating to dementia awareness sessions in workshops and events.

“When it comes to running Sparky’s we’re all one big team. Ben and the other people using the service have so many great ideas that we’re able to implement to help our café grow. It’s fantastic to be involved in a project that truly embraces co-production and gives a voice to the people we support.”