We Are Zest owner Lisa Cathro (4th left) and some of the café’s staff celebrate their IIYP achievement. They are (from left) Lewis Weston, Hamish Hutcheson, Manager Caroline White, Olivia Dunderdale and Leo Hector.

St Andrews social enterprise café We Are Zest is so committed to its work helping young people that it’s not buying a new plaque to show it’s earned Investors in Young People (IIYP) accreditation for the second time in four years!

 Instead, the self-funding ethical café is investing the £200 cost in more textbooks to help its staff.

We Are Zest provides training and paid work for people with additional support needs to help them learn valuable work skills and maintain or achieve employment. It previously earned IIYP status in 2015.

Investors in Young People status, which is awarded by Re:markable, recognises and supports organisations as an employer of choice as they seek to recruit, develop and retain a dynamic, young workforce through recognising practices and pathways that have positive outcomes for young people and creating a talent pool for the future.

We Are Zest has been granted the status in recognition of its work to recruit, support and develop young people, including its supportive culture e.g. staff rally round someone having a bad day. For the assessment by Re:markable, 16 staff members and their parents completed questionnaires and were interviewed.


We Are Zest scored so highly it was well above the level required and gained praise from the assessor. The award report from Re:markable, written by consultant Jane Scobie, said: “The opportunity Zest offers young people is praiseworthy. The work you are doing is admirable and having read your last IIYP review from 2015 I believe you have developed your business further particularly through having a team in place that can take charge if necessary.

“Everyone I met with or sent a questionnaire was very positive about the future, clearly appreciate the opportunities available and the investment you make in them, to quote: ‘This experience has been life-changing. It’s brilliant working here. I love it here. I am really happy here’.”

In 2015, Zest was recognised at Standard level and has maintained that. It would probably qualify for a higher level of award, but lacks the funding to pay for the extra time of the assessing consultant required for that longer assessment.

No plaque

Despite earning the right to buy and display a new IIYP blue plaque, We Are Zest is so committed to its work, it’s turned it down. Owner Lisa Cathro explains: “Rather than pay £200 for the blue plaque we’re entitled to, we’re investing it in more textbooks for staff learning instead.”

Lee-Ann Birse, Disability Employment Co-ordinator for Fife Council’s Supported Employment Service, added her praise for the work We Are Zest does: “Zest understands the needs of all disabilities and adapt their workplace to suit – no matter what support is required, Zest will find a way to make employment activities work.

“They support someone to see their own abilities and build their confidence, which is the most important part of anyone’s journey. Zest breaks down barriers and makes employment work for everyone.”

Zest owner Lisa Cathro said: “We’re delighted to earn this recognition for the second time as we’re always looking to be the best we can be. The experience was extremely valuable for me as the owner as the opportunities to get feedback about my organisation, what I do well and where I can improve are rare. I particularly liked that the team and their families had an input into the process.”

We Are Zest’s past awards include: 2018 – Best Cafe Design Scotland, Scottish Cafe Awards; 2017 – Community Justice Award; 2016 – Responsible Business Champion – North East Fife from the All-Party Parliamentary Corporate Responsibility Group; 2014 – Employer of the Year, Scottish Union of Supported Employment; 2014 – Micro Employer of the Year 2014, Skills Development Scotland Modern Apprenticeships Awards 2014 and 2010 – Scottish Business Diversity Award from the Scottish Union of Supported Employment.

The Zest website can be found at http://wearezest.co.uk