Mencap take over park cafe

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EXCITING training opportunities and somewhere for the community to enjoy a bite to eat are back on the menu after a charity took over a park cafe.

Haswell Catering Services, the social enterprise arm of Haswell and District Mencap, has taken over the Green Leaf cafe, in Horden’s Welfare Park.

The cafe had stood empty for more than a year but the local Mencap charity is providing two new full-time jobs and an outlet for local people, including those with learning difficulties, to take part in training.

The new opening hours are 9am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday. It will open on Sunday for the teddy bear’s picnic.

It serves fresh food including a daily set menu, as well as paninis, toasties, baked goods and fresh cream cakes, all made on the premises.

Haswell and District Mencap chief executive Hayley Hood said: “We have been having a full dining room pretty much in our first few days and on opening day we were crammed to the rafters.

“A couple came in with a young child and said ‘thank God this is open, it’s a godsend for when you bring your children to the park.”

Mrs Hood said Mencap hopes to build on the top quality catering service already offered at its Haswell base, at the Lisa Dixon Centre.

Horden Parish Council clerk Paul Davison said: “It is a win-win situation for the parish council and for Mencap.

“It’s us working in partnership to bring training opportunities and to bring a community resource back into use.”