Lowestoft café project aims to improve employment prospects for people with additional needs

New cafe in Lowestoft Library. Photo: Mick Howes

New cafe in Lowestoft Library. Photo: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

A café that provides work experience, training and volunteering opportunities for people with additional needs has opened in Lowestoft.

The Compass Café is based inside Lowestoft Library in Clapham Road South and is staffed by people with learning disabilities, autism and young people in transition.

It is run by social enterprise Leading Lives and was officially opened by Waveney MP Peter Aldous.

Leading Lives has also transformed a kitchen at their Lowestoft Community Hub into a professional catering kitchen, where its clients will be able to learn how to prepare and serve food to customers alongside gaining industry recognised qualifications.

Baked goods served in the café will be prepared at the Lowestoft Hub.

Debbie Cole, locality manager for Leading Lives said: 'We are very excited to be able to offer a unique new learning opportunity for our customers which will support them to acquire independent living skills, qualifications and transferable work experience as well as gaining confidence and self-esteem. We also hope we will be a positive addition to the Lowestoft café scene and provide our visitors with a quality and good value experience.'

The aim of the scheme is to help clients move into paid employment or further education as well as gaining independent living skills.

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Over time, it is hoped the new commercial kitchen, which is adapted to suit the needs of people with disabilities, will be able to provide outside catering as well as serving meals to people using the Hub.

Mr Aldous thanked the Leading Lives team for making the café possible before admiring the food on offer and praising the setting.

He said: 'It's great news that Leading Lives are opening a café in Lowestoft that not only serves the community, but also gives back to it. By providing qualifications and work experience to people with learning disabilities, it is a project that will change the lives of many people in the area.'

The café will be open Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 3.30pm.

Leading Lives provides social care support for 1,200 customers across Suffolk and neighbouring counties, in the home and in the community.

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