Norman Lamb MP opens new cafe in Cromer run by adults with learning disabilities

Norman Lamb MP helps launch the About With Friends cafe in Cromer.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY Norman Lamb MP helps launch the About With Friends cafe in Cromer. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Sunday, March 16, 2014
4:21 PM

A cafe run by adults with learning disabilities has been opened in the heart of the high street - providing its staff with the opportunity to gain experience at work.

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Norman Lamb MP helps launch the About With Friends cafe in Cromer. Pictured with CEO of About With Friends Helen Dalton-Hare BEM.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYNorman Lamb MP helps launch the About With Friends cafe in Cromer. Pictured with CEO of About With Friends Helen Dalton-Hare BEM. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The About With Friends Cafe in Cromer is run by the charity’s members with help from support staff and will serve a full menu.

The cafe, at the former Blue Danube in Tucker Street, was opened yesterday by MP for north Norfolk Norman Lamb.

Helen Dalton-Hare, chief executive of About With Friends, said it provided a brilliant opportunity.

She said: “For a long time our members with a learning disability have been saying ‘we don’t want to be the people that receive service, we want to give it to people’.”

And all the food is prepared in the About With Friends kitchens.

The cafe is the latest in a long line of schemes run by the charity, which has been running for 13 years.

The charity provides adults and young people with learning disabilities the chance to develop life skills through services such as catering and gardening.

And its catering business receives regular bookings for outside events, including weddings, and has become the caterer of choice for Victory Housing Association.

Member John Trewin, 26, of North Walsham, has been with About With Friends for more than two years.

He said: “I am looking forward to the opening, I want to see what it is like to get on with work.

“I like working front of house because you can have a chat with customers and be friendly.”

The cafe will operate under the watchful eye of manager Andrea Brown, 43, along with about six members and four support staff each day.

The menu has been designed with pictures for people who struggle with literacy, and a special singles’ table in the cafe will offer a place for people on their own to socialise.

Eventually, Ms Dalton-Hare hopes the cafe will provide paid employment for the charity’s members.

Members of About With Friends pay for the service with their personal budget, money from the government which allows people who require care to choose where it comes from.

Kevin Day, team leader at the charity, said: “A lot of people with a learning disability would rather go some where where they can learn a particular skill.

“We are about inclusion and people having a chance to try everything and do it in a safe and supportive environment.”

The charity is a non-profit organisation, all profits from the cafe will go back into the charity.”

Have you recently founded a charity venture? Email sabah.meddings@archant.co.uk

48 comments

  • AWF need to make it clear that they will charge people with a learning disability to "work" in the cafe. AWF state they will pay a wage, is this a proper wage where money exchange hands or will AWF pay the wage into a pretend bank where the money can only be spent at AWF?

    Report this comment

    lolafish

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • Thank you also for amending the report and making it clear that the members are paying for this through their personal budgets.

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • Samphirelover..it s mainly about the opportunity for these people to have a positive part to play in the community AND not just the money which you seem to be obsessed with in your comments..or did you miss that?

    Report this comment

    Responsible parent

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • To RP ... I'm not obsessed with money at all but I do believe in a fair days pay for a fair days work. Would you be happy if I suggested to you that you might like to come and work for me all day ..... Maybe help me with my cooking or cleaning but you'd have to pay ME over £100 what would you say?

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • Lolafish .... I'd be really interested to know where you got that figure. I think it's a lot more than that which the members are having to pay. I do agree with you about the staff.

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • after a small amount of research it appears that the daily charge to members covers all aspects of care they need and comes from their personal care budget as provided by the government. Essentially these people are choosing to spend their care benefits on spending time developing work skills or going to social events. I think this is being looked at in the wrong way. The charges are to cover additional care requirements so these people have the support they need, not charge them to work.

    Report this comment

    Boo'sMum

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • Backwoodsman, why wont people choose to go to this cafe? why wont they have any customers? personally i would like to think that most people arent as narrow minded as yourself. why can these people not be proffesional, or indeed just good at catering? because they have additional needs? how ignorant of you.Some of the most intelligent, creative and talented people have SEN. Albert Einstein in fact was noted to be dyslexic and most probably autistic. who is to say that these people are not talented and intelligent themselves!!!?

    Report this comment

    Boo'sMum

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • Would anyway like to talk about facts on here, or are many of you here just to write horrible comments with the little snippets of info that you think you know? I can categorically tell you lolafish, that nobody at A.W.F. would ever go out to a community based activity and be in a group of 10 and only be supported by 1 or 2 people!!!! It just would not happen. It would be a major Health & Safety risk. As for the people talking about budgets and funds etc, there are organisations that are privately run who are in the care sector to make money and profit for their owners or shareholders. A.W.F. is not one of them; it is a registered charity whose accounts are published each year. Any money made is ploughed back into the organisation making it financially stable for its members. Some supporters are paid, but there are no fat bonuses or high wages that you would find in private organisations, and many of the staff work for the organisation because they have family members with learning disabilities or want to help improve the quality of life of the organisations members.

    Report this comment

    Herbals1974

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • Samphirelover, £50.00 for a bowling trip I'm in the wrong job. I'm hopefully AWF will see they need to pay their members a wage for working in their new cafe in Cromer and not for their members to paid to work in the cafe.

    Report this comment

    lolafish

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • Well, personally I am a supporter of AWF, a CHARITY which works hard to provide those who are differently abled an opportunity to develop skills and live a life which they otherwise would be denied, simply because of thier additional needs. I think this is a wonderful initiative, and will most certainly pop in, and continue to support AWF. Keep up the good work guys, and please ignore the haters. It is all too clear that SOME people can only find negativity in these things, and seem to think that it is has been developed as some kind of personal attack to themselves, and their wallets.

    Report this comment

    Boo'sMum

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • You must be quite het up though-YOUR punctuation, spelling and syntax is quite poor.

    Report this comment

    backwoodsman

    Friday, March 21, 2014

  • That should read penultimate para. I wish we could edit posts on here.

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • "...Why is he doing the Vsign?..." . A well directed riposte to all the trolls on here.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • In the past Norfolk County Council would commision services like About With Friend to provide day services activities for people with learning disabilities. Now if eligible, people are allocated a personal budget which they can spend on activities or a day service place. People who attend work experience at About With Friends as opposed to a day service social placement choose to spend their personal budget there, they don't have to its their choice. About With Friends offers people with learning difficulties a range of community work experience placements. They should be supported for their innovative approach to increasing activities and options for people with learning disabilities not criticised. People have a choice as to what they spend their personal budget on. The level of support that is needed is intensive and staff wages and costs have to be paid. I feel we are very fortunate to have such a service in North Norfolk. If Norfolk County Council had just paid a lump sum to About With Friends to offer this service no one would have commented. The difference is now giving the choice to people means they choose what to spend their day service allocation on. My son attends this service and it has benefitted him greatly.

    Report this comment

    opiumlady

    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • I think what Jeffrey Osborne really means is "well done" to this group for giving something back to the community. Really well done, and nice to see the mp supporting this worthy addition to Cromers High Street.

    Report this comment

    Responsible parent

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • The point that the 'haters'?? are trying to make, is that whilst we are all in favour of disadvantaged people learning skills and gaining confidence, there is a growing suspicion that charitable works are becoming a bit of a gravy train for some people. The staff get paid, the clients pay to work, there are undoubtedly preferential rates for the premises, for a set period(after which the cafe will close) and the whole thing is dressed up as a wonderful initiative. It could have been done on their Holt road premises for a fraction of the cost, and had the same worthwhile results.

    Report this comment

    backwoodsman

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • To Boos Mum ... I don't think anybody on here has said these members can't be professional or do a good job. It just doesn't sit right with me that they are PAYING to be there. This wouldn't happen in any other workplace would it? I have a family member with learning disabilities so I do have a personal interest and do applaud any effort for them to be involved in work but they should be treated fairly.

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • Larsybaby! You haven't been on for ages! RP-you don't want any customers in, then? Because if you don't then it isn't, but if you do..............!

    Report this comment

    backwoodsman

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • Thank you David Powles for reinstating the comments on this thread. Lolafish .... It might be worth trying to post the answers again? Honesty is of course, the best policy and I think AWF should make this clear too. A lady from Bradenham wrote in EDP on Saturday about her learning disabled son who was helping at the Food Bank at Dereham Hub. She was also asking that it be made clear that people were using their personal budgets to make the Hub successful and felt it should have been mentioned in the reporting thereof.

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • RP ... Read the penultimate sentence in the report. Of course I wish them well and will definitely pop in there for a coffee next time I'm in Cromer which will be one day next week. I am just not happy with the reporting which is making out they are doing the members a big favour. Coincidentally there was a letter from a parent of someone involved in a similar scheme elsewhere in the county ... EDP yesterday I believe. She was also saying pretty much the same as me .... It's not right and it's not made clear that they are paying to attend these places.

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • Get a life John.

    Report this comment

    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • Why are no more comments being published?

    Report this comment

    backwoodsman

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • Hi guys. Were all for good, honest and open debate on these forums, but a couple of the comments on here are not constructive to the debate and are about to be removed. David Powles Editor Digital

    Report this comment

    David Powles

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • personally, i will continue to support AWP as a charity, and its work to provide those who are differently abled an opportuinity to develop skills and live a life they may well have been denied, simply because they have SEN. Keep up the good work guys, and I will see you soon for a cuppa :)

    Report this comment

    Boo'sMum

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • Obviously it is almost illegal to criticise this sort of thing. But honestly, who are the potential customers? There are good cafes in Comer run by professional catering staff, I can't see many punters choosing this particular one over them. If it's just going to be a meeting place for 'About with friends' and their families then fine, but don't call it an addition to the town's café culture.

    Report this comment

    backwoodsman

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • Ey'up, the panto crew have landed!

    Report this comment

    backwoodsman

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • personally, i will continue to support AWP as a charity, and its work to provide those who are differently abled an opportuinity to develop skills and live a life they may well have been denied, simply because they have SEN. Keep up the good work guys, and I will see you soon for a cuppa :)

    Report this comment

    Boo'sMum

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • "but don't call it an addition to the town's café culture. Who said it was "backintimewoodsman" ? Again someone knocking a real attempt by others to make a go without a positive contribution to make themselves !

    Report this comment

    Responsible parent

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • I don't think a lot of people realise that these young people pay very large amounts of money out of their Personal Budgets to attend About with Friends. The AWF staff are getting paid to supervise the young people with learning disabilities whereas the young people are PAYING to work in this cafe. This can't be right. People on job seekers allowance wouldn't put up with this but learning disabled people are being ripped off. Bet Norman Lamb doesn't realise this. Why is he doing the Vsign?

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • "but don't call it an addition to the town's café culture. Who said it was "backintimewoodsman" ? Again someone knocking a real attempt by others to make a go without a positive contribution to make themselves !

    Report this comment

    Responsible parent

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • I don't believe these people have much of a choice as to how they spend their allowances-I feel they could be quite easily 'persuaded' to spend it in a certain way. The staff are already being paid, and possibly getting enhanced rates from their stints in the café(as extra duties) The money goes round and round and ends up in AWF coffers. Yes, it is good for the clients to have work experience, and all the personal benefits thereof, but this is still a waste of resources, the only saving grace is that it will be short-lived. We as a country should never have dismantled the Remploy franchises, they gave people a REAL work opportunity.

    Report this comment

    backwoodsman

    Friday, March 21, 2014

  • Each person will have to pay £7.78 per hour to work in this cafe and they do not receive a wage. Please remember its our tax money paying for this and the very high wages for the senior staff at awf!

    Report this comment

    lolafish

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • lolafish

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • How about you go after real stories about Norman Lamb like why he has been charging taxpayers for riding his bike?

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • To backwoods man .... Well they had an income of over £700,000 last year much of which will be from people's personal budgets, so I guess they can afford a few tea bags and some milk.

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • Backwardsman (very fitting name) I feel your time would be better spent pulling legs off fly's or taking ice cream from babies you clearly have not got a clue about what your droning on about !!! carry on AWF fantastic job

    Report this comment

    muffin

    Friday, March 21, 2014

  • after a small amount of research it appears that the daily charge to members covers all aspects of care they need and comes from their personal care budget as provided by the government. Essentially these people are choosing to spend their care benefits on spending time developing work skills or going to social events. I think this is being looked at in the wrong way. The charges are to cover additional care requirements so these people have the support they need, not charge them to work.

    Report this comment

    Boo'sMum

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • Backwardsman (very fitting name) I feel your time would be better spent pulling legs off fly's or taking ice cream from babies you clearly have not got a clue about what your droning on about !!! carry on AWF fantastic job

    Report this comment

    muffin

    Friday, March 21, 2014

  • Samphirelover... Yes it is a sad fact of life that there are vulnerable people in society that will always have to pay someone to support them. Although to be completely factual, the money isn't their money, it is money given to them by the government to buy the services that they need, and as a caring society we have been paying people to support others for years. Maybe you would be happier if these adults were forced to be supported in a closed day service environment that many of them hate? Personally, I think it's great to see people with a learning disability integrating in everyday society and having the opportunity to learn real skills for real life, but yes these people will need support to learn those skills, and yes it will require some of those supporters to be paid. I think if you'd looked into this scheme a little more before making a judgement then you'd have realised that the eventually intention is that some of the people will get paid work, but whilst they have to receive large amounts of support, yes they will have to pay for that out of their budgets. Maybe we should be closing all schools as well, after all I believe those teachers and support staff might be paid.....gosh how terrible!

    Report this comment

    Herbals1974

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • Hi SL, I've tried to answer your question regarding costs but my last post removed! I did write to say AwF charged last year for leaning disable people to join in their cromer carnival float and to attend their christmas party. All I'm asking is for AWF to be honest with how much they charge learning disable adults to work for them.

    Report this comment

    lolafish

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • To Responsible Parent .... The only people who are gaining financially out of this are the About with Friends Staff and organisation. The learning disabled people are PAYING to spend the day there and not getting paid.

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • Hi guys. Were all for good, honest and open debate on these forums, but a couple of the comments on here are not constructive to the debate and are about to be removed. David Powles Editor Digital

    Report this comment

    David Powles

    Monday, March 17, 2014

  • Well Samphireluvver..you are reading into this article an issue which isn't evident ( at least to my reading of it ) ..and again you seem not to be making the effort to support this worthy venture. I say good luck to them if they read this and ignore the cynics!

    Report this comment

    Responsible parent

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • Well Samphireluvver..you are reading into this article an issue which isn't evident ( at least to my reading of it ) ..and again you seem not to be making the effort to support this worthy venture. I say good luck to them if they read this and ignore the cynics!

    Report this comment

    Responsible parent

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • Who will pay for the overheads and stock for this initiative? As it's not going to be a new member of Comer's café culture, and therefore will have no customers, what exactly is the reasoning behind taking a prime retail spot? You could have 'mocked up' a café in the AWF site where the table top sales are held, and saved a lot of money(or is the charity getting a grant for this?) If it is, you and I both know that as soon as the charitable funding stops, the 'cafe' will shut. in the meantime, all the staff will be raking in extra shifts in the 'cafe' With no customers, as it is not going to be a part of comer's café culture. I am all for helping the disadvantaged gain experience and confidence, but as a taxpayer I think this particular enterprise is just a way of getting extra cash for the staff.

    Report this comment

    backwoodsman

    Sunday, March 16, 2014

  • I know you are probably connected with AWF, I know this is a waste of money and might benefit some of the disadvantaged, but will DEFINITELY benefit AWF staff, and going back to the original post, it won't become part of Comer's café culture and will simply be a meeting place for all associated with AWF until whatever charitable funding they have acquired runs out. So, Muffin, will you be on overtime for the foreseeable future?

    Report this comment

    backwoodsman

    Friday, March 21, 2014

  • Now, where are those flies..........

    Report this comment

    backwoodsman

    Friday, March 21, 2014

  • Backwoodsman, why wont people choose to go to this cafe? why wont they have any customers? personally i would like to think that most people arent as narrow minded as yourself. why can these people not be proffesional, or indeed just good at catering? because they have additional needs? how ignorant of you.Some of the most intelligent, creative and talented people have SEN. Albert Einstein in fact was noted to be dyslexic and most probably autistic. who is to say that these people are not talented and intelligent themselves!!!?

    Report this comment

    Boo'sMum

    Monday, March 17, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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