Ilkley social enterprise safe for the next ten years

Cafe staff and volunteers with their smiley teapot and Ilkley Community Enterprise directors John Thirlwell, Louise Hale (right) and Karen Goodman-Picken (back row, second right)

Cafe staff and volunteers with their smiley teapot and Ilkley Community Enterprise directors John Thirlwell, Louise Hale (right) and Karen Goodman-Picken (back row, second right)

First published in Local news Wharfedale Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

An ambitious social enterprise providing work for people with learning disabilities is opening its doors to the community after securing its new base for the next ten years.

The new Ilkley Community Enterprise has signed a decade-long lease for the former Glover’s Garage premises in Bridge Lane in its bid to set up a cafe and community hub.

The venture, currently seeking charitable status, aims to provide training and employment to adults with learning disabilities.

But those behind the scheme – who hope to have the cafe open by Easter – are also keen to put the cafe at the heart of the community.

It is working closely with Churches Together in Ilkley’s CTI 2000 project, as a successor to the long-running Oasis Cafe. Tens of thousands of pounds have already been secured for the scheme, but the enterprise is keen to welcome help from groups, businesses and individuals as it prepares to refurbish the former garage premises.

The building has been empty since the Nidd Vale car dealership closed late last year.

An open day will take place on Saturday when directors will welcome in members of the community to see plans for the future, a film about the cafe, an artist at work and to join in festive celebrations for all the family.

“It’s so much more ambitious and exciting than we thought it was going to be,” said John Thirlwell, one of the community enterprise’s directors.

As well as eventually raising money through its catering and providing a venue for community use, the enterprise is likely to be part-funded by direct payment state funding, given to people with disabilities for care and support services.

People with learning disabilities who work there could effectively invest some of their own support funding to provide training and work for themselves at the project.

Mr Thirlwell said: “The cafe shell will be transformed over the coming months – due to open Easter 2013 – but we couldn’t resist the chance to get the community in to show them what we plan.”

And following an appeal to Ilkley people for ideas the cafe has a new name – Outside the Box.

Organisers picked the name as they felt it reflected the idea of the venture being more than a cafe.

The open day will take place on Saturday from 11am to 3pm.

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