Lisa Cathro from "Zest"

Wed, Jul 26th 2023 at 12:40 pm - 2:00 pm

Citizen of the year awardee Lisa told how she supports staff and customers with various disabilities.

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The speaker at the Rotary Club of St Andrews on the 25th July was Lisa Cathro of Zest Cafe

Lisa was awarded the Club "Citizen of the Year Award" earlier this year and was invited to return to speak about her life and times

Her opening remarks set the tone for a somewhat unexpected talk, as many members perhaps thought that Zest Cafe is a simple food and beverage operation.  It is certainly not simple at all, as members soon found out

"What do we really do at Zest?", said Lisa.  70% - 80% of her staff have or have had, disabilities of some kind or another. Her role is to train people in dispelling their disabilities.  She works closely with Fife Council and other organisations who place people at Zest for up to 12 weeks

All the team at Zest are aware that they all need to pay attention to body language, as at times people need to come off the front line, if they are not quite coping and are given another role which keeps them involved, but reduces their stress levels

Some people have mental health issues and find it difficult to get regular work as a result. But if you treat people with respect, people respond and sometimes you need to try different tasks

Lisa also overcomes her own disability, as she has cognitive issues, and she overcomes this by training her team in her own job so that they can take over from her.  In addition, she also works with other groups and businesses with special regard to task analysis

She also works with the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland to assist other businesses in their own challenges and she works with a network of professional volunteers

More recently Lisa has joined the Board of Trustees at the Community Hub at the West Sands and she is helping to apply the Zest business model to that enterprise, to help them move forward. Indeed she was also working with one individual who found it tough to hold down a job for more than 3 months at a time and is now more settled

Zest is limited in the numbers of individuals they can employ, so working with other groups is one way to expand the Zest principles

One question from the audience ( who were transfixed and taken aback by the intensity of Lisa's work ) was "Are you in danger of spreading yourself too thinly?"  Lisa replied that during and after Covid, she suffered from "Long Covid" and she studied resilience planning for her team, if she was out of the picture.  

Her staff were also involved in strategic planning and she has divided her team into 3 groups who come up with new ideas and benefits of working differently.   4 staff are specifically trained in "disability awareness"  Lisa recently completed her Degree at Dundee University and is hoping to go on to take a Masters

The vote of Thanks was delivered by Jerry Beaulier, who was most impressed by Lisa's management style and effectiveness and he wished that he had known about some of what she had outlined today, as it would have helped him in his career in the military and in management

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