VOLUNTEERS have got their latest venture off to a tea.
The Venue, which was previously known as Mission 12-17, has launched a new cafe at its community centre in Sunderland city centre.
The High Street West facility first opened 18 months ago to offer teenagers a safe social environment.
But project leader Diane Richardson and fellow members felt there was room for further development at the site of the former Ku Club nightspot.
“The cafe is open six days a week and run entirely by volunteers,” she said. “We have teamed up with Jobcentre Plus to support 18 to 24-year-olds looking for work experience.
“Young people complete eight-week placements, with many staying on afterwards to volunteer.
“We have built up a regular customer base, especially with older people and families.
“They enjoy the great prices, as well as the children’s activities, like Xboxes, pool tables, as well as a bouncy castle for the toddlers.”
Diane said the community-based group, which is sponsored by MEC Entertainment, has gone from strength-to-strength since it was launched in 2010, also opening the “Stand Up and Mackem Laugh” comedy club.
“We are now a community entertainment hub which hosts a range of events, such as charity nights, zumbathons, birthday parties, as well as a comedy club,” she said.
“Also, from today, we are starting a disco night every Tuesday for young people and adults with learning disabilities and conditions such as autism.”
Former call centre worker Leona Richardson, 23, from Hendon, became involved in the cafe after she was made unemployed earlier this year.
“I started here on an eight-week placement, but I’m hoping to stay on after that,” she said. “It’s great here. I’m really enjoying it and the customers are always friendly.
“We’ve been getting some really good feedback.”
The cafe is open Monday to Saturday from 10.30am to 2pm.
Anyone using the cafe from today until this Saturday, can quote promotional code VE1217MEC and receive a 10 per cent discount off any meal.
For more information about the centre, call or text 078 9985 5766.
Alternatively, follow the venue on Facebook.