Cafe re-opens in new partnership

(left to right) Haswell Mencap founder member Jean Dixon MBE, Haswell Mencap member Paul Wooff, Haswell Catering Services manager Janet Ingleby and Horden Parish Council chairman Councillor Jean White
(left to right) Haswell Mencap founder member Jean Dixon MBE, Haswell Mencap member Paul Wooff, Haswell Catering Services manager Janet Ingleby and Horden Parish Council chairman Councillor Jean White

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 running of 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 cafe’s new opening hours are 9am-6pm, from Monday to Saturday, and is set to open on Sunday for the park’s annual teddy bear’s picnic.

It serves a host of 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.”