By Kaia Wallis
A takeaway fish and chip shop along Port Lincoln’s foreshore is determined to make a difference by creating employment opportunities for the disadvantaged.
Community House Port Lincoln recently purchased The Pantry, a takeaway store, with the aim of helping long-term unemployed people develop workplace skills and gain employment.
Community House manager Linda Davies says The Pantry now has a small team of five employees, including a young man with Aspergers Syndrome.
Linda says the young man is now entirely independent from unemployment benefits.
“For the first time in life he has a full-time job and he has blossomed down there,” she says.
“All he needed was someone to have the patience and passion to support him, which is what Community House does.”
Linda says the business has gone “back to basics” with training.
“It’s all about team building and learning to be there for each other, as well as the skills of how to cook and serve, these are the skills a lot of them don’t have,” she says.
“We want them to rely on each other, to support each other, to communicate and to listen, because if you have a great team you have great productivity.”
Linda says the idea to turn the fish and chip shop into a social enterprise was born when Community House observed a lack of opportunities available for those facing unemployment to learn practical workplace skills.
“We saw a gap and thought we could really help,” she says.
Linda says volunteers helped generate the funds used to purchase The Pantry in May this year.
“Without the passionate volunteers, we wouldn’t have been able to buy it,” she says.
“The shop has been in Port Lincoln for maybe 60 years, it was a blessing that it met our budget.”
Linda says The Pantry is something of an icon in Port Lincoln, known for its low prices and generous servings – something she says Community House is striving to maintain.
“We try to keep our prices at a minimum because we want to give back to the community,” she says.
“It’s not always about profit, as long as we can keep our heads above water our profit will be giving these people some financial security and skills to move forward in life.”
Local businesses and community members have also thrown their support behind the business – with Linda’s own neighbour offering to volunteer on a busy public holiday.
“It’s just become a real hub of activity, people seem to want it to survive,” Linda says.
A local business provided a refurbishment of The Pantry, including a fresh coat of paint and the installation of new walls and power sockets.
Linda says the space is set to be further rejuvenated with plans to incorporate an art installation subject to council approval.
“It’s all happening, it’s all positive and it’s all about working together to promote our beautiful town of Port Lincoln,” she adds.
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