Noah's Cafe future hangs in balance

PUBLISHED: 13:20 06 March 2008 | UPDATED: 21:24 31 May 2010

Margaret Trainor collects cash surrounded by her colleagues Picture: MICHAEL BOYTON

Margaret Trainor collects cash surrounded by her colleagues Picture: MICHAEL BOYTON

A CAF: that gives opportunities to people with learning difficulties could close at the end of the month because funding has dried up. But staff have vowed to keep fighting to save the service. Project manager Lucy Sibley said: We are so proud of what we

A CAF: that gives opportunities to people with learning difficulties could close at the end of the month because funding has dried up.

But staff have vowed to keep fighting to save the service. Project manager Lucy Sibley said: "We are so proud of what we have achieved here and I can't believe it would be allowed to close. It is a truly valuable and unique service in the community."

Noah's Café, based at the Saffron Walden Community Resource Centre on Audley Road, will close on March 31 unless they can find last-minute funding.

Employee Margaret Trainor, who joined the café in October, held a raffle to help raise money to save the café and her job.

"It was lovely that she did this off her own back and it was all her own idea," said Mrs Sibley. "She raised over £100, but unfortunately this is not enough to keep us open."

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 money has now run out and the café has been unable to find an alternative source of funding.

Mrs Sibley said: "We haven't given up hope just yet. We are in conversation with Social Services to become a registered training facility, but we haven't had a decision from them yet.

"The café does make some money, but not enough to be self-sufficient. We have lots of ideas for the future to make it more profitable, but at the moment we cannot operate without funding."

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

"It has benefited so many people," said Mrs Sibley. "We offer a full training package to our employees which teaches them about food preparation and hygiene, but they also learn transferable life skills and it really helps to raise their self-confidence.

"We have a waiting list of people who would like to work here, but at them moment we don't know what the future holds for us."

The café produce a range of cakes, biscuits, scones and cookies that can be made to order. They are also making hot cross buns for Easter.

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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