Upset as two charity-run Portsmouth cafes are forced to close

NOT HAPPY Tracy Robinson, centre, who has been made redundant from the Enham Cafe, serves tea to John Murray and Helen Hearson.    Picture: Ian Hargreaves (110794-6)
NOT HAPPY Tracy Robinson, centre, who has been made redundant from the Enham Cafe, serves tea to John Murray and Helen Hearson. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (110794-6)
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STAFF have spoken of their shock and disappointment after two cafes which help people with learning and physical problems have closed.

The cafes, one in Omega Street, Somers Town and the other in Landport Community Centre, Charles Street, Landport, have shut due to funding problems.

Both were run by charity Enham, in Andover, which aims to provide people with physical and learning difficulties with work experience.

The closure of the two cafes has led to three people losing their jobs.

Alex Hull suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and worked as a trainee cafe assistant at the Omega Street cafe.

Alex, 24, said: ‘I was so gutted when I found out – completely gutted.

‘This job has taught me so much about myself and given me skills I didn’t think I would ever gain.

‘Because of my Asperger’s I found it difficult to talk to people for longer periods of time and was quite shy.

‘But this role helped me come out of my shell and actually made me realise I am pretty good at customer services.’

And the manager of Landport Community Centre described the cafe as the ‘hub of the community.’

Joanne Kerr said: ‘Our cafe was the hub of our community and we would be keen to have it reopened.

‘It served so many people. We had those who take part in courses at the centre and builders that would come in and use the facilities.

‘But one of the best things was seeing generations of families come in and use the cafe together.

‘We often saw a child, with parent and grandparent come in, which was great.’

Tracy Robinson, who was supervisor of the Omega Street cafe, collected 250 signatures from customers who wanted to keep it open.

The 38-year-old of Buckland Path, Buckland, plans to reopen the cafe.

Tracy said: ‘I would like to open the cafe again and have been talking to business advisors to try and put a case together.’

Paul Hambling, of Enham, said: ‘Despite the successful training and employment opportunities for both disabled staff and volunteers, along with their dedication and hard work, it has not been possible to continue to operate the cafes in these difficult economic times.

‘Although the cafes met their social objectives, tough competition from the high street, along with ever-increasing costs made it impossible to achieve financial sustainability.

‘We deeply regret three staff have been made redundant, but would like to express thanks to the staff and volunteers, who worked tirelessly in an effort to keep them open.’