Leeds cafe is such a hit it has a waiting list to work there

Volunteer Sarah serves up tea and cake at the Courtyard Cafe. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
Volunteer Sarah serves up tea and cake at the Courtyard Cafe. PIC: Bruce Rollinson
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A Horsforth cafe not only provides customers with their daily caffeine fix, it also serves its staff a healthy portion of confidence.

In the two years since it opened, the Courtyard Cafe has proved such a success it now has a waiting list of people keen to join the team.

The innovative project, run as a social enterprise, was set up in 2012 with the aim of providing people with learning disabilities with new skills and work experience.

Now, as it celebrates its seccond anniversary, the cafe boasts a workforce of more than 30 volunteers, aged 18 to 69.

Joshua Wharton, development co-ordinator for charity Creative Support – which set up the cafe in partnership with Leeds City Council – said: “The Courtyard Cafe has been a roaring success. It has provided our clients with an opportunity to develop new skills, increase their confidence and develop meaningful relationships with people in their local community.

“We are very proud of everybody’s achievements at the cafe, and we are excited about its continued development.”

The eaterie operates just like any other cafe but is mainly staffed by people with learning disabilities and focuses on benefiting the community rather than making a profit. .

Service users take turns at mastering a range of responsibilities from waiting tables to barista, food preparation, and greeting customers.

The project was shortlisted in the Third Sector Excellence Awards for Best Start Up and has recently earlier this year, it expanded to open Courtyard Creativities, which provides activities such as gardening and cooking for individuals with support needs.

The goal for the year ahead is to help some of the volunteers move on into work placements with other local businesses.

The cafe is now recruiting for a management committee which will oversee its continued development, and ensure that the cafée sticks to its core ethos “Honest, Ethical, Local”.

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