Ausnew Home Care | Rhythm cafe gives Sunshine Coast people living with disability boost through employment

Rhythm cafe gives Sunshine Coast people living with disability boost through employment

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Murray Boyton estimates he has created "80,000 coffees of magic" since he started making them a few years ago.

The pastor turned barista says of those cups, the most fulfilling ones have been brewed at his Baringa cafe, which solely employs people with intellectual disabilities.

Mr Boyton and his wife of 25 years, Kathy, opened the cafe in 2021.

"There's been a lot of hard work ... a lot of blood, sweat and tears ... but we enjoy it," Mr Boyton said.

"We love just seeing the gold in people and the potential."

Mr Boyton said he and his wife aimed to provide a space of "meaningful inclusion" for customers and staff, including those on the autism spectrum.

"We help people find their rhythm and go along that journey of empowerment ... it improves their confidence and lowers their social anxiety," he said. 

Ms Boyton is also a pastor and lives with functional neurological disorder. 

She said her experience helped her understand the additional needs of her 10 employees, as her condition prevented her from working "in the normal sense". 

"But here I'm accepted ...  if I can't function normally it's OK ... and that's the environment at Rhythm, you can come to work and know it's OK," Ms Boyton said. 

"You have worth ... and that's what's beautiful about it."

Woman with staff smiling at camera
Ms Boyton (front left) says her team provides a relaxed atmosphere.()

Fuelling hope

The cafe has provided more than just a wage for Alex Stonier.

The 26-year-old, who lives with his parents, said the job had given him skills and confidence, bringing him closer to achieving his dream of having his own home.

"This is my independence ... it's given me hope and more of a happy smile on my face," Mr Stonier said.

He said it made him feel good to serve customers.

"To be honest, without coffee people would suffer ... without coffee, people can't go anywhere," he said.

Man making coffee giving thumbs up to the camera
Mr Stonier says he enjoys learning new skills at the cafe.()

Fellow staff member Bree Johnson, 40, said she had been working at the cafe since it opened.

She was previously employed at a fast food restaurant and said she found the environment at the cafe much more supportive.

"It's really hard to find work for people with disabilities ... and some people don't let you work with them because you have a disability," Ms Johnson said.

"It is really calming [the cafe] ... they're lovely people and they're kind."

Girl in black shirt smiling at camera.
Ms Johnson says she is always happy to go to work.()

Expansion plans

The Boytons hope to provide more employment opportunities, with plans to create a community kitchen where they can provide hospitality certificates.

Profits made at the cafe are used to create Christmas hampers for local families in need, but Mr Boyton said they also hoped to offer packs throughout the year.

"Those needs don't stop at Christmas," he said.

The cafe was named as a finalist in the Member for Fisher's 2022 Community Group of the Year awards.

Ms Boyton said watching the change in staff was the biggest reward.

"We had a young gentleman who came in and when he started with us he had high anxiety and and knew very little," Ms Boyton said.

"I took him through his first egg break and his first mop experience ... he told us at first 'I will never touch the coffee machine'.

"He's now one of our best coffee makers."

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