Church Links with Social Enterprise to Open Café with a Difference
A Baptist church has teamed up with a social enterprise to house a café in its new building that is staffed by adults with learning difficulties
The Links Café at Shrewsbury Baptist Church gives both experience and training to its volunteers to enable them to gain employment.
The volunteers are drawn from local special schools and other contacts the church and those behind the enterprise have.
The café is open Thursdays, Fridays and some Saturdays, and those involved at Links include a specialist speech and language therapist, a qualified teacher for adults with learning difficulties, a social worker and a trained chef. Profits are ploughed back into supporting the volunteers.
At any one time at least one if not two members of Shrewsbury Baptist Church are present.
The Revd Charles Crosland said the café had proved popular. 'It's been a phenomenal success, in terms of people who have come in.
'I was in this morning and it was full. It has also attracted many people with learning difficulties - we are in a modern building that is fully accessible. It's not unique to churches, but for us it's been a brilliant experience.'
The café has been made possible by the church's new building. Shrewsbury Baptist Church is an amalgamation of two Baptist churches, Crowmoor and Claremont. Services are taken in the former Crowmoor building on the outskirts of town, while the former Claremont building in the town centre opened after a complete reconstruction last year.
As well as the Links Café, it has generated much use since then, with art exhibitions, food festival and exam sitting by a local sixth form all featuring.
'I always thought that having a fantastic building in the centre of the town would do very well, and we have been able to build these relationships,' added Charles.