A MOTHER is bidding to turn an abandoned wet fish shop into a community coffee shop that provides work and training for people with learning difficulties.
Amanda Barnes, 55, from Waterlooville, says she is ‘passionate’ to turn the unit at West Street in Fareham which used to be Farm, Forest & Sea into a community project.
I felt that it would be a great opportunity to open a shop that can help train people with difficulties so that they can get the qualifications and training they need.Amanda Barnes
She submitted a change of use planning application to Fareham Borough Council earlier this month.
Mrs Barnes, of The Dale, Widley, who is a property developer, says the idea came to her due to the fact that her daughter, Taylor, 23, who has learning difficulties and son Kane, 28, who has a disability, have struggled to gain work and training due to their respective conditions.
She said: ‘It’s something I am very passionate about. I felt that it would be a great opportunity to open a shop that can help train people with difficulties so that they can get the qualifications and training they need.
‘Hopefully, what it would mean is that once they are done here, they can go on to further work, and that will be down to the training they would do here.’
The unit, which has been available since Farm Forest & Sea departed, was previously home to P & S Cripps fishmongers, who served fresh fish from the store for nearly a century.
Farm, Forest & Sea took over in 2013 after Mrs Barnes bought the unit, however, the fishmongers shut up shop earlier this year.
Mrs Barnes’ plans for the shops involve hosting evening events and will be a not-for-profit business, similar to Cafe iMBiZO, also of West Street.
She has began discussions with employment charities Shaw Trust and You Trust as she hopes to have one of them on board as a partner for the project to help secure funding for the project.
She added: ‘Right now, what I’m looking to do is secure funding. The planning application has gone in and hopefully, if approved, I can start to get things going later on this year.
‘People really struggle to get employment if they have learning difficulties, I’ve seen it for myself, so this is all about giving people a sense of belief so they know they can make it out there.
A decision on Mrs Barnes’ application is due to be made by August 17.