Sean expands his horizons with his appetite for café work

LIFE is sweet for Sean Snaiham after landing his first ever job working at his favourite Caerphilly café.

The 29-year-old local man has rolled up his sleeves and got stuck into service at the Oasis Coffee Shop after grabbing the chance for work with both hands.

Sean, who has endured lengthy periods of instability in his life, now has the ingredients for the recipe for a new start after a tempting job opportunity was spotted at his local cafe.

Sean, who battles long-term mental illness, has been supported for four years by Expanding Horizons’ Ty Bryn Bach service in Abertridwr, Caerphilly.

Sean is an enthusiastic member of the service, whose transformation has been incredible over the four years, said: “It’s lovely working at the café. I’m getting used to the routine. I am enjoying getting more responsibility every day, and I enjoy working with the other volunteers. I am committed to working at the Oasis Café for a long time.”

Expanding Horizons, established in 2005, is a supported living organisation based in Cwmbran. It assists those that are resident in the South-East Wales region who are experience a range of mental health issues, learning and physical disabilities.

Ty Bryn Bach, Caerphilly, service manager, Tina Fishburn, said: “The staff and I at Ty Bryn Bach are so proud of Sean and how far he has come in the last two years, Sean has always been a generous, kind and outgoing character he just needed encouragement and support to reach his full potential. With guidance and a positive approach from staff at Ty Bryn Bach, Sean has realised that there is nothing out of his reach and that he can achieve anything he sets his mind to.”

As a testament to Sean’s progress over the last four years, in June 2021, he managed to secure his first ever job in the local café. The Oasis Coffee Shop is a not-for-profit café that is run by people from the Abertridwr Community Church and volunteers.

The Oasis Coffee Shop Assistant Manager, Emily Williams, said: “Sean has been very loyal and consistent since he started working with us at the Oasis Coffee Shop. He is always very happy and polite towards all of the staff and never fails to put a smile on our faces with his sarcastic humour.

“He is very driven while working and makes sure all the jobs he completes are done to the best of his ability, we admire this very much about him. He always gives things a go and is always eager to help where he can. He is always a pleasure to work with; he can stay for as long as he likes.”

Terry Evans, who has worked closely with Sean since joining the Expanding Horizons team 18 months ago, said: “Getting this job really was a huge step and a dream come true for Sean.

“Sean is well-known in the local community. He has a real affiliation and love for Caerphilly. Part of Sean’s daily routine was to take a trip into Caerphilly, so for him to be able to work there is just awesome.

“On one of our trips into town I noticed a sign in the café asking for volunteers. I wasted no time in asking Sean, and the management teams of both the café and Expanding Horizons. Before we knew it Sean was warmly welcomed into the team and started his training, which included food safety training.

“Sean started at the Oasis Coffee Shop with two days a week for three hours. He has progressed so much that he has been invited to work an extra day. Sean is now up to nine hours a week and is participating in taking orders, washing and drying the dishes and taking money with assistance. After the shift has ended, Sean and the other volunteers sit down for a breakfast and chat, which is amazing to see.”

Expanding Horizons Managing Director, Tim Jenkins, said “This success story brings me so much joy, as it displays so many of the values of Expanding Horizons. We are committed to working in partnership with local authorities, communities and the people we support to develop and deliver responsive, flexible and high-quality support to meet individual needs and aspirations.

“I am so proud of Sean, the Team at Ty Bryn Bach and so thankful to the Oasis Coffee Shop for giving him this amazing opportunity.”

The Expanding Horizons team provides housing, care and support for its service users who live within the 10 services that span Torfaen, Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent. They have plans to expand into the south west.