Following the success of their pilot pop up Café 21 in Far Headingley in March 2018, the Leeds-based Down Syndrome charity, Sunshine & Smiles, has now opened a new gallery & coffee shop, 21 Co, in Headingley Central/Arndale Centre.
“We aim to help young adults with Down syndrome get vital work experience and we have had amazing support from the local community,” says Ailith Harley-Roberts, Service Manager at Sunshine and Smiles. “We have worked with members of Headingley Development Trust and Schroders to take on a tenancy in a newly-refurbished retail unit in the heart of Headingley. We are hoping that this may be extended depending on the success of the venture.
“National statistics show that only 17 per cent of all adults with a learning disability are in paid employment. Clearly, it can be difficult for the young people we support to get the work experience and training they need to secure jobs.
“Following our Café 21 pilot project we were determined to get something more long-term off the ground! We will be aiming meet the needs of young people with Down syndrome in the workplace and to create a long-term model where participants are treated like any other trainees and can access training and paid work.
“We had a fantastic response to our pop-up café last year from the local community and our young people gained so much from the experience. We are delighted to be have been afforded the opportunity to create something a little more permanent and so grateful to everyone who has helped us get to this point, thank you all!”
The venue will provide work & training opportunities to 16 to 24-year olds who happen to have Down syndrome. The charity aims to offer young people the chance to gain formal qualifications and obtain work experience, equipping them with new skills, confidence and independence. It has already provided the 21 Co. team with food hygiene and barista training and each will receive one-to-one support from the charity’s workers & volunteers.
Sunshine & Smiles is a parent-led charity which helps children and young people across Leeds by providing speech and language therapy, regular groups and activities, individual support and advocacy for families. It aims to raise awareness and challenge preconceptions about Down syndrome in the wider community.
Tom Woolven, Investment Manager from Schroders Real Estate Investment Trust, said: “Schroders Real Estate Investment Trust (SREIT) is delighted to welcome Sunshine & Smiles to the recently rebranded Headingley Central (formerly known as the Arndale Centre). The gallery and coffee shop will add vibrancy, amenity and colour to the scheme and SREIT is delighted to be working with such a worthwhile cause and professionally run charity. We wish Sunshine & Smiles, the 21 Co. team and members of staff every success.”
The gallery/cafe project has been supported by Schroders Real Estate, Walker Morris LLP, Castlehouse Construction, local finance partnership Phoenix & Wolfe, The Wesleyan Foundation, Wade’s Charity, The Sir George Martin Trust, The Anton Yurgens Trust, St Chad’s Parish Fund, Cielo Coffee Roasters and local businessman Jonathan Morgan & his family.
Sunshine and Smiles - Leeds Down Syndrome Network
21 Co Gallery and Cafe, Unit 32, Headingley Central, Otley Road, Leeds, LS6 2UE
Registered Charity No. 1154661
You can donate to us today at: http://localgiving.com/charity/sunshineandsmiles