Community café continues to support people with learning difficulties despite lockdown
- Credit: HOT POTS CAFE
A March community cafe that supports people with learning difficulties has gone from strength to strength despite the global pandemic thanks to support from local people.
Hot Pots café, which celebrated its second anniversary last October, successfully trialled a local takeaway and delivery service towards the end of last year.
The takeaway service allowed volunteers to continue with their placements, gaining confidence and skills useful for employment.
Charlotte, one of the volunteers, said: “I enjoy working here, it’s helped my confidence and I look forward to coming.
"I have learnt new skills that I can now do at home and hope to use if I get a job.”
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Normally based at March Community Centre, it’s currently using March Town Cricket Club as a temporary location where it is usually open to the public five days a week.
Because of the latest Covid-19 restrictions, it is only open for two days and its temporary location has allowed them to make their homemade cakes giving all the volunteers a chance to improve their baking skills.
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Mark, another of the Hot Pots volunteers, said: "I really enjoy working at the café and it has helped get me out of the house.
"It has especially helped during these times and I never want to stop working here.”
Kayleigh Dring, employment skills worker for Cambridgeshire County Council, which helps to run the café, said:"“Despite having to close between March and September last year due to the Covid-19 restrictions we’ve gone from strength to strength.
"We’ve been overwhelmed with the support from the local community for the takeaway and delivery service, something the staff worked together to develop so that we could stay open during the last lockdown.
"It was such a success we’ve decided to carry it on. The café is so important to the volunteers that come here and provides a real opportunity for them to develop their skills and confidence.”
Volunteers like Ashley are one of 16 people with learning difficulties who have worked at the café and benefited.
Ashley said: “I like working here, my favourite part is making the paninis, I am doing really well making coffees now. The staff are really friendly.”
Councillor Anna Bailey, Cambridgeshire County Council’s chair of adults committee, said: “Since it opened in 2018, the café has grown from having three volunteers to 12 and gone from being open one day a week to five usually.
"We’re so pleased it is managing to continue to operate and provide opportunities to people and we continue to work with Time Credits Cambridgeshire to reward them for their hard work.
"We’re also grateful to March Town Cricket Club for kindly offering the use of their kitchen temporarily.”
Due to national lockdown restrictions the café is only open Thursday and Friday 10.30am to 2.30pm offering a local takeaway and delivery service.
The café sells cakes, coffees, paninis, toasties and jacket potatoes. Follow the Hot Pots Café on Facebook.