Work is under way on building a community cafe at Ripon’s popular Walled Garden that will help people with learning disabilities and offenders to enter the job market.
The project – which has been supported by a £15,000 grant from the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) Community Fund– will develop a training programme that improves the quality of life and employability prospects of people with learning disabilities and offenders across Ripon, Harrogate and the surrounding villages in North Yorkshire.
Visiting the project on Monday, PCC Julia Mulligan said: “I’m delighted to be able to support this project, which has the potential to transform the lives of hundreds of people who, either through learning difficulties or offending behaviour, find themselves at considerable disadvantage on a very tough jobs market.
“I am confident that this will be a high-quality and much-valued local facility and hope that the local community offers it their full support when it opens in doors later this year.”
The project will see learners develop a range of practical, transferable skills – such as retail selling, customer care, planning and event organising – which they can use to boost their chances of finding paid employment.
The Community Cafe will be available for two days a week for other charities, community organisations and schools to hire to raise funds and awareness for their organisation.
The Walled Garden’s Chris Searle, who put together the bid for the grant, said:“Everyone at Ripon Walled Garden is absolutely delighted to have been awarded this funding.
“It will now enable us to achieve a long-term goal of opening a community cafe on our site just off Palace Road, Ripon, which in turn will provide the opportunity for the people we work with to learn new skills in catering, and be of further benefit to the wider community.”
The cafe will be open seven days a week, 50 weeks of the year and will provide structured learning for up to four people with learning disabilities per day, a total of 20 per week. The cafe will also provide structured learning for up to eight offenders a day.