Learning difficulties charity wins catering contract

Helen Dalton-Hare chief executive of About With Friends. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Helen Dalton-Hare, chief executive of About With Friends. - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC

People with learning difficulties will soon be cooking up a storm for council workers in north Norfolk. 

North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) has awarded a contract to the charity About With Friends to run the staff restaurant at its headquarters in Holt Road, Cromer.

Helen Dalton-Hare, chief executive of the Cromer-based charity, said: “I can’t tell you how excited everybody is. We will be so proud to provide catering services for our North Norfolk District Council staff.

North Norfolk District Council headquarters in Holt Road, Cromer.

North Norfolk District Council headquarters in Holt Road, Cromer. - Credit: Colin Finch

"Members are going to get fabulous experience in NNDC’s kitchens and a whole new range of opportunities.

"We have members who are so ready for this opportunity and are looking forward to meeting everybody at the council”.

About With Friends supports adults and children with learning difficulties to live the life they choose, and runs services including a work skills programme.

It also has a catering department where members not only learn to cook for themselves, but for outside events such as weddings and corporate hospitality.

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Councillor Lucy Shires, the council's portfolio holder for organisational resources, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to reflect our drive for equality through the award of this contract and we have helped to create more opportunities for learning new skills.

Lucy Shires (Liberal Democrats) is standing for North Walsham East division.

Councillor Lucy Shires. - Credit: Supplied by the Liberal Democrats

"I look forward to the visiting the canteen and meeting the About With Friends team.”

A council spokesman said it was clear the charity was able to provide healthy, appetising meals and snacks while also giving the opportunity for those involved with the charity to learn essential life skills.

About With Friends runs a successful café in Tucker Street in Cromer town centre. 

They also have a shop, which was recently re-launched in a move away from a typical charity shop to an outlet for upcycled furniture and items made by its members. Goods made 'in-house include bird boxes, art and t-shirts printed in their workshop with original artwork.