Down Syndrome charity hosts pop-up cafe in Leeds

From the archive: Ailith Harley-Roberts, of Sunshine and Smiles, is pictured with Sarbjit Kaur in March 2016 to launch a photography exhibition at Kirkstall Abbey Visitors' Centre.
From the archive: Ailith Harley-Roberts, of Sunshine and Smiles, is pictured with Sarbjit Kaur in March 2016 to launch a photography exhibition at Kirkstall Abbey Visitors' Centre.
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A Leeds charity is hosting its very own pop up cafe this week - run by and for young adults who have Down Syndrome.

Sunshine and Smiles, the Leeds Down Syndrome Network, is taking over the Carousel event space at 80 Otley Road in Far Headingley to run ‘Cafe 21’ from March 18 to March 25.

The week-long project has been organised to coincide with World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, a global awareness day which this year has a theme of ‘What I bring to my community’.

Throughout this week, Cafe 21 will be open every day serving home-made cakes and food, hot and cold drinks and gifts from The Potting Studio and Neal’s Yard.

A total of £10,000 was raised for Sunshine and Smiles in the 2015 Arena Group Leeds Mini and Junior Run.

A number of fundraising evening events have also been planned, including a pamper evening on Tuesday March 20, a clay workshop on Thursday March 22 and a curry night on Friday March 23.

Ailith Harley-Roberts, service manager at Sunshine and Smiles, said: “We have a group of young people who we do a lot of social and creative activities with who are over 16 but we’re aware that opportunities for either work experience or paid employment is significantly far less for young people with Down Syndrome. We wanted to do a pilot project to offer some training opportunities and to look at ways to hopefully develop something that would be sustainable in the longer-term.”

Seven young adults with Down Syndrome will be manning the cafe throughout the week, supported by charity staff or volunteers, and gaining training and qualifications along the way.

Ailith said: “It will demonstrate that people with Down Syndrome have just as much to offer the local community as everyone else - they are to be equally valued - and to raise the profile of people with Down Syndrome.”

She added: “This is absolutely a first for us and it’s been really exciting.”

The project has been funded with help from The Seedbed Trust and The Wesleyan Foundation.

For more information on the week, or how to book tickets, visit the https://www.facebook.com/cafe21sunshineandsmiles.

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