A PIONEERING project aiming to get young people with learning disabilities into the workplace is looking for a new home.
People working for Lily and Lime LD were left heartbroken after being told they could no longer stay at Hewitt’s, a community centre in Emsworth run by Community First Havant and East Hampshire (CFHEH).
For the past six months, 15 young people took part in a pilot project at the centre, learning how to run a food establishment.
Anita Godson, founder of Lily and Lime, was hoping to open a cafe to the public.
But she was told by CFHEH that would not be possible.
Ms Godson, from Havant, said there were no hard feelings, but said: ‘It’s very sad for the young people. They were very upset.
‘Because they have been happy and had worked well in the community.’
She said they are now looking for a venue in the Havant or Emsworth area to open to the public. The group recently held a celebration at Hewitt’s in South Street to recognise its achievements.
Ms Godson said: ‘We’ve had a wonderful response to what we are doing. Sometimes these things are thrown in your path for a reason.
‘We have developed a framework for change.
‘They need to be moved on. Day services provision is changing. Money is getting tighter and they need to be given the chance to skill up and be more independent.
‘They can do it and we have proved that in the last six months.’
Jacquie Vincent-Coulter, head of community services at CFHEH, said the project was always a pilot and they had taken the decision to partner with Right to Work – a non-profit organisation that empowers young people with learning disabilities.
Its clients make meals for elderly members at the centre, but the service is not open to the general public as a cafe.
She said: ‘We felt that the Right to Work scale of operation, the range of what they did and the fact they have been providing employment to people with learning disabilities for some considerable time, that in the longer-term a partnership with Right To Work would provide us guaranteed service that we needed.’
She added: ‘Anita is wonderful. We have the utmost respect for her. If there is any way we can help her, we will.’
Anyone who can help can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (023) 9234 5674.