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'It's the best day of my life' - Man helped by social enterprise The Feed celebrates opening of its new market stall

PUBLISHED: 15:50 29 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:50 29 March 2017

Founder of LEAP, Barry Allard, left, and stall co-ordinator, James White, right, with Dariusz Wojtas, at The Feed market stall offering coaching and employment opportunities in catering to vulnerable adults. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Founder of LEAP, Barry Allard, left, and stall co-ordinator, James White, right, with Dariusz Wojtas, at The Feed market stall offering coaching and employment opportunities in catering to vulnerable adults. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

A market stall designed to give disadvantaged adults a chance to improve their lives has opened, following a £21,000 crowdfunder bid supported by the public.

Social enterprise LEAP - and their trading arm The Feed - are behind the project.

They aim to offer the chance for vulnerable or socially excluded people to gain skills, build their confidence and ultimately get a job - all through teaching them catering skills.

Founder and director Barry Allard said the stall, which would be offering sandwiches made from local ingredients, sausage rolls and coffee - amongst other things - would give the social enterprise a boost.

“It gives us a real public face,” Mr Allard said. “We’ve been trading as a catering company for three years but this gives us a presence and it gives clients the opportunity to meet customers.”

The Lord Mayor, Marion Maxwell, and Dariusz Wojtas celebrate after cutting the ribbon to open The Feed market stall offering coaching and employment opportunities in catering to vulnerable adults. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Lord Mayor, Marion Maxwell, and Dariusz Wojtas celebrate after cutting the ribbon to open The Feed market stall offering coaching and employment opportunities in catering to vulnerable adults. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Cutting the ribbon at the ceremony this morning, Lord Mayor Marion Maxwell encouraged all to support the stall - in row A stalls 24/25 - and The Feed.

Last year LEAP - of which The Feed is part of - worked with 179 adults, many of whom faced homelessness, suffered with mental health and battled with drug and alcohol addictions.

Of those people, Mr Allard said 60 had now found employment.

“One in five people experience homelessness, so some of us here could be affected,” he added.

Founder of LEAP, Barry Allard, speaks before the opening of The Feed market stall offering coaching and employment opportunities in catering to vulnerable adults. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYFounder of LEAP, Barry Allard, speaks before the opening of The Feed market stall offering coaching and employment opportunities in catering to vulnerable adults. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“But this stall will help people get real work experience and opportunities.”

One of The Feed’s clients, 22-year-old Dariusz Wojtas, said it was “the best day of [his] life”.

Before coming to the Feed, Mr Wojtas had been unemployed. But he said since taking part in their Florish Employment Academy he had a more positive outlook, and was keen to get involved with preparing food on the stall.

“They improved my confidence and helped me learn how to make food,” he said.

“I’ve learned there’s no such thing as can’t.”

James White, stall coordinator, will be giving up his time to make sure everything runs smoothly.

The 23-year-old said: “It means so much that we can give confidence, it’s something very special.

“The stall is going to be something different, we’re non-profit and all proceeds go to supporting more of our clients, we’re trying to do something new.”

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