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New café, Onward Enterprise @ The Parlour, set to open in Harleston

A café is set to open in Harleston offering an integrated and protective work environment for adults with learning difficulties, autism and mental health issues.

The venture is the brainchild of community interest company Onward Enterprises, which was started in 1990.

After the closure of Parlour Tea Rooms in Exchange Street in May, Onward Enterprises managing director Rachel Allum-Sindall spotted the opportunity for an exciting new venture, in conjunction with antiques and vintage centre Cornucopia.

Liam Brown, Elly Chevous, Mark Sears, Lucy Wasmuth, Rachel Allum-Sindall and Ryan McKenzie. Picture by Mark Bullimore.
Liam Brown, Elly Chevous, Mark Sears, Lucy Wasmuth, Rachel Allum-Sindall and Ryan McKenzie. Picture by Mark Bullimore.

She said: “I thought this would be a really good idea for the people we support, while adding to the experiences that we offer.

“So I told the directors of Cornucopia that I was interested in taking over Parlour Tea Rooms.”

Onward Enterprises currently supports more than 100 adults through its supported work scheme.

From its base in Harleston, it provides services such as packaging and sorting for pharmaceutical companies, high street retailers and publishing companies.

“All of this is far bigger than just working in a café,” said Mrs Allum-Sindall, who lives in London Road.

“It’s dressing smartly, getting up in the morning and committing to doing something.

“We are supporting people in all the areas they might ordinarily struggle with when they live independently and we enable them to be the best they can be.”

Onward Enterprises operates as a not-for-profit organisation and, as such, reinvests money back into the organisation, as well as funding social events for its service users.

The café, which is expected to open on November 27, will offer sandwiches, soup, scones and hot drinks, as well as gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options.

“There is a real buzz and pride around the opening. The café is about valuing people and our community and showing what we can do when we work together,” said Mrs Allum-Sindall, 52. “It’s all about ability, not disability.”

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The opening times will be Monday to Saturday from 10.30am to 3.30pm.

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