A new cafeteria at Ocean Views Mental Health Hospital was officially inaugurated today. The cafeteria will be open to all service users, visitors, and staff at Ocean Views, Hillsides Residential Home and the Bella Vista Day Centre.

The aim of the establishment is to offer supported employment to persons living with mental health issues. The initiative has been made possible as a result of collaboration between the Gibraltar Health Authority and Clubhouse Gibraltar.

The cafeteria will operate using a local mental health charity, working in partnership with Clubhouse Gibraltar, in offering their members sheltered employment opportunities within the hospitality and catering industry.

Over the last two years, Positive Pathways has been working with Clubhouse Gibraltar, and other mental health charities and local firms, who have generously contributed towards the project.

Darryl Britto, Positive Pathway’s Project Manager, stated: “The Cafeteria will be operating using a social enterprise model, with an emphasis on social reinvestment. We are working in partnership with Clubhouse Gibraltar in offering their members opportunities to work and receive training within the hospitality and catering industry, as part of Clubhouse Transitional Employment Program.

Mr Chris Chipolina, Manager at Ocean Views said that the cafeteria was an important development, as it would provide persons living with mental health issues the chance to acquire proper catering skills that would be transferable to any other catering establishment in Gibraltar. He said: “We purposely kitted out the cafeteria with industrial equipment of the kind that can be found in other bars and cafeterias. This is in its initial stages and our aim is to expand the programme to other areas such as gardening. It will make a big difference to Ocean Views and we are very much looking forward to it.

The Minister for Health, Care and Justice, the Honourable Mr Neil F. Costa MP said: “The cafeteria is a wonderful initiative, which will not only provide a service to the entire campus, but job opportunities to persons that may find it difficult to take the first step to commence, or get back into, employment. No doubt, it will provide these individuals with a sense of pride and purpose and help them gain confidence in a working environment. Initiatives such as these are invaluable, as we have a duty to provide opportunities to all members of our community and ensure persons do not feel isolated and that they can make significant contributions.”