My NoNNa’s Wheelchair-friendly Workplace | SPD - Singapore

My NoNNa’s Wheelchair-friendly Workplace

05/01/2018

Ms Geraldine Tan (third from the left) and her team from My NoNNa's Cafe.

The option of being employed may seem far-fetched for some individuals with disabilities, and they may choose to remain home. Lack of social interaction outside their homes may also affect these individuals’ mental wellbeing.

After witnessing a close family friend regressing in this manner, Ms Geraldine Tan decided to set up My NoNNa's to help offer a solution. My NoNNa’s is a café that is also a social enterprise that gives people with disabilities meaningful employment and trains them to prepare and serve Italian food at schools.

Ms Tan opened her first My NoNNa's outlet at the canteen of St Joseph's Institution in 2015. She first started hiring individuals with intellectual disabilities, with most of her employees fresh out of special education schools. The gainful employment offers them a sense of self-worth as well as financial and social independence, and could potentially improve the mental health of some through meaningful work.

Ms Tan subsequently extended employment opportunities to those with physical disabilities through a partnership with SPD's Transition to Employment (TTE) programme in October 2016. Her first employee with physical disabilities was a stroke survivor who had substantial experience in food and beverage. He was hired to manage one of My NoNNa's outlets, giving him the opportunity to return to work while he was still undergoing therapy.

In 2017, My NoNNa’s developed a wheelchair workplace friendly café at the Singapore University of Technology & Design (SUTD). Due to the special design of this café, My NoNNa’s was able to hire two staff who were wheelchair users, one of whom was Jasmine Ho.

Jasmine had many years of experience working as a chef, and was passionate about cooking. Three years ago, after a surgery, she lost strength in her legs and experienced numbness in her hands. Therapists at TTE worked closely with her in her physical rehabilitation when she enrolled in the programme in August 2016.

Jasmine took up the opportunity to work at My NoNNa's and has been working there as a chef since September 2017. Thanks to the design of the wheelchair-friendly workplace, Jasmine is able to continue doing what she is most passionate about.