Customers at a cafe run by people with learning difficulties express their sadness as it closes

It is due to close next Friday.

CUSTOMERS who regularly use a cafe staffed by people from an adult day centre have spoken of their disappointment as it is due to close next Friday.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council decided to close Upsall Hall in July claiming that dwindling user numbers meant the centre was no longer viable.

However, many members of the public who use the centre feel let down by the decision.

Sheila Harvey, who used the centre for more than 30 years, campaigned tirelessly to save it from closure but the appeal fell on deaf ears.

She said: “There is a lot of people who have used the cafe for years and it will be terribly disappointing to see it close down. Many of the people who work there enjoy what they are doing and it is really good for them to interact with people.

“The cafe has become vital for the people who use the centre as it gives them the chance to develop their skills and many of them have gone on to achieve qualifications. I just hope that wherever they end up that they will be able to continue to develop.”

Earlier this month, the Council announced plans to launch a scheme for people with learning difficulties which could create up to 15 year-long placements within the authority to enable people to take advantage of supported work experience.

Candidates would gain general employability skills, while a nominated colleague would receive disability awareness training to ensure that the person’s needs were catered for.

Joy Rowlett, a special education professional, has also hit out at the closure claiming the trainees will lose out on social interaction.

She said: “Returning customers are often recognised by the trainees and friendships have developed, with the result of increasing motivation and mutual respect between all parties.

“The discreet support and gentle constant encouragement by staff to the trainees is exemplary and is a key component to meeting individual needs of the trainees and their progress they make and would need continuing nurturing to enhance future progress.”

The café is due to close on Friday, October 4 with the rest of the centre expected to shut its doors by the end of the month.

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