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

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

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.