Café on brink of closure is saved

PUBLISHED: 16:28 25 March 2008 | UPDATED: 21:26 31 May 2010

Margaret's Gala.
Noah's Arc, Saffron Walden.
February 22, 2008.
Photograph by Michael Boyton.
Pic shows: Margaret and freinds.
Name: Margaret Trainor (holding red bucket).

Margaret's Gala. Noah's Arc, Saffron Walden. February 22, 2008. Photograph by Michael Boyton. Pic shows: Margaret and freinds. Name: Margaret Trainor (holding red bucket).

A CAFÉ run by people with learning difficulties has been saved with less than two weeks to spare. Noah s Café, based at the Saffron Walden Community Resource Centre on Audley Road, was due to be closed to Monday (March 31) because they had run out of mone

A CAF run by people with learning difficulties has been saved with less than two weeks to spare.

Noah's Café, based at the Saffron Walden Community Resource Centre on Audley Road, was due to be closed to Monday (March 31) because they had run out of money.

But an eleventh hour meeting with Social Services has secured the café's future for the next financial year.

Project leader Lucy Sibley said: "We are absolutely thrilled with the decision. We only had six working days left before the café was going to be closed.

"It has been really touch and go whether we would still be here in April, and I had begun to fear the worst, but now we can breathe a huge sigh of relief."

At a meeting last Wednesday (March 19) Social Services agreed to fund 15 staff training places from April 1.

Noah's Café was opened in March 2005 after the Realife Trust - a charity which supports people with learning difficulties - successfully applied for funding from the European Social Fund.

The café have been searching for alternative sources of money since the funding ran out in September.

The café, which caters for the people in the Community Resource Centre and also provides a service to the public, employees 15 people and four paid catering assistants all with learning difficulties.

Ms Sibley said: "This funding gives us a real opportunity to make plans for the future and make the café more profitable."

As part of a double celebration Noah's Café were also presented with a gold Uttlesford Heartbeat award at a ceremony last Tuesday. The awards are given to organisations that have excellent hygiene standards and offer healthy choices.

Health promotion officer at Uttlesford District Council Lisa Lipscombe said: "To earn the gold standard is a real achievement - especially after the financial crisis they have been through.

"The café teaches the staff about running a café and so much more. They learn about catering for people with specific allergies, as well as money and communication skills, and it's all done in such a wonderful atmosphere."

A spokesman from Essex County Council said: "Noah's Cafe is a social enterprise within one of our day centres for people with learning disabilities and is responsible for providing meals. Essex County Council is delighted to have been able to provide 15 training places from April in catering and retail. This is a brilliant community-based development where opportunities go to local people who in turn offer a local resource to the community. We are looking forward to seeing many more such opportunities develop across the county."

The café produces a range of cakes, biscuits, scones and cookies that can be made to order. For a full product list or to place an order with the café call Simon Till or Lucy Sibley on 07871 197041.

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