As some of you will be aware at the end of May this year the Charity HFT quit the Welland Park café that they had been running for many years. The reason for this was that they could not make a profit from the business and due to merging with another charity a business review was conducted after which it was decided not to continue providing this service as a placement for their service users.
Harborough District Council placed the café lease onto the open market looking for expressions of interest to run and improve the service provided at this site.
Hearing about this late in the day a group of interested community members met, including Transition and Green Party volunteers, and decided to submit a bid to run the café as a Community owned not for profit Social enterprise that would allow the HFT service users to continue their valuable placements in the community facing business and would develop the cafe as a local food hub and community meeting space.
A massive amount of effort was invested in a very short time as there was only just over a week until the submission date was due. With the enthusiasm and guidance of Becky Nixon and other core volunteers a number of stakeholder organisations were identified and committed to supporting the proposal, and we discussed options with potential funders.
Although shortlisted, our proposal was unfortunately not accepted by HDC. They had concerns about how quickly we could open and the viability of our model as it depended on some initial start up funding, although we were confident we could get this. So despite being a social enterprise meant that longer term we could bring funding into the café that a business wouldn’t be able to, and that we wanted the café to support more vulnerable members of the community and create opportunities for them, HDC didn’t want to take this risk.
We were obviously disappointed by this decision but look forward to the opening of the café under its new proprietors and wish them the very best of luck in their new venture. At the time of writing (6 and a half weeks later) the café is still closed and there doesn’t seem to be any information about what is happening, which is a shame as by far the greatest proportion of its takings are during the summer months and it is the loss of a great facility for the use of the community.
You can view the submitted proposal in the link below