A North Tyneside charity is looking forward to serving tea in the sunshine after its plans to create a patio area outside its forthcoming new community cafe won the support of a regional employer.
The North Tyneside Disability Forum works with and for local disabled people, their representatives, friends and families to ensure disabled people are able to participate on equal terms in society with choice and control over their own lives.
Earlier this year, the charity moved its headquarters to new premises on Earsdon Road in Shiremoor, and as part of widening its outreach work, it began to trial community coffee mornings that were open to anyone in the area.
The popularity of these events has led the Forum to make the cafe a permanent part of its activities programme – and now, it has been awarded a £5,000 grant from the Banks Community Fund to build a sheltered patio area outside the cafe for visitors to use.
Local firm KBM Building Services is set to start work on the patio, which will be block-paved and fitted with railings to ensure it is accessible to all, and it is expected to be ready for use before the end of the year.
The cafe will also provide vocational training and work experience opportunities for some of the charity’s service users with learning disabilities, which it hopes will equip them with new workplace skills.
Founded more than 30 years ago, North Tyneside Disability Forum provides a wide range of free activities for more than 300 people every week, from photography, Tai Chi and music classes to creative arts, drama and a cinema club.
Its services are supported by a 120-strong team of volunteers, and its members range in age from seven to 87 years old.
Liz Turnbull, lead community development work at North Tyneside Disability Forum, says: “There was a community cafe close to our old premises, but it was forced to close and was much missed by local people.
“Our new premises offers both a large kitchen and a good-sized meeting space, so we thought it would be a good idea for us to create a new cafe that everyone could use instead, and we’ve been really pleased with the numbers of people who’ve visited us during our trialling period already.
“The cafe will provide a safe space in which anyone can spend some time chatting with friends and neighbours over a cup of tea, which makes a big difference in terms of tackling social isolation and loneliness, and it also gives some of our members the chance to develop and enhance skills that they might need one day need in the workplace.
“The area outside the cafe will offer a perfect place to sit when the weather’s nice, and putting the patio in place will ensure this space is fully accessible to everyone.
“There’s no way we’d have been able to take our patio plans forward without the support we’ve had from The Banks Group, and we’re looking forward to being able to make the most of it on sunny days for years to come.”
Chris Kelsey, communications manager at the Banks Group, says: “The North Tyneside Disability Forum does so much good work for disabled people and their families across local communities, and their ambition to do even more through the new cafe will make a big difference to a lot of local people.”
The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of Banks Group projects.
Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342 to check if their group or project is eligible.