The charity behind The Hidden Gem, one of Sheffield’s most popular eateries, is celebrating its 20th anniversary by expanding its facilities for people with learning disabilities.
Work Ltd, which is based on Ringinglow Road in Bents Green, provides daily activities ranging from woodwork to sewing for disabled people over the age of 16.
Students work on themed projects every six weeks and the final products are sold on the shelves of the cafe.
Facilities also include a gardening centre, workshop, arts and crafts area, stained glass room, and resource room for textile projects.
Work Ltd is hoping to raise £40,000 to build a log cabin as space is limited for its 77 students.
The money will also go towards hiring another tutor as well as expanding the cafe to train students to bake and cook.
Centre manager Sarah-Jayne Field said: “We’re here to give them a purpose once they’ve left school.”
Emphasising the importance of a routine, she said: “They do feel they are working, and it gives them that normality.”
Work Ltd also helps develop life skills.
Students learn to do their washing, make tea, and cook simple recipes.
By serving beverages at The Hidden Gem, they also gain confidence interacting with members of the public.
Lesley McCarthy has been a part of Work Ltd since it began twenty years ago.
When her father died in 2012, the charity supported her transition into supported living accommodation by ensuring that she had the skills to live independently.
Lesley is currently developing her own cross stitching projects and says she ‘never gets bored’ at Work Ltd.
When asked about seeing her finished products on the shelves of the cafe, Lesley said: “It’s just amazing, I just want to cry.”
Proceeds from The Hidden Gem, which offers breakfast and sandwiches made from seasonal ingredients, feed directly into the charity.
Sarah-Jayne said: “Supporting us is as easy as coming in through our doors and buying coffee or having lunch.”
Work Ltd has raised over half its target goal since it began fundraising in January.
Along with three of her friends, Louise Alford donated her time and energy towards planning a recent charity ball which raised more than £17,000.
The event at Baldwins Omega included live entertainment, a four course meal, games, raffles and an auction.
Louise said: “We were completely overwhelmed not only by the generosity of the guests but also from local businesses and friends who donated auction and raffle prizes. The amount raised will make a massive difference to Work Ltd and all who attend there and will ensure that the amazing work that takes place there will continue.”
Louise discovered The Hidden Gem while taking her disabled son to neighbouring Bents Green School.
She popped in one day and saw just how many students relied on the organization after a fire alarm went off and everyone had to be evacuated.
Louise said: “There are lots of things for children with learning disabilities, but very rarely can you find anything for adults. It’s frightening to think where they’d be or where they’d go if it wasn’t here.”