Community cafe in Dunmow will provide opportunities for people seeking work

Staff at the opening of The Tea Leaf on September 30. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Staff at the opening of The Tea Leaf on September 30. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

A tearoom has opened in Dunmow which will provide training and work experience for people who need help finding employment.

Staff at the opening of the Tea Leaf. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Staff at the opening of the Tea Leaf. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Mayor of Dunmow, Councillor Emma Marcus, opened The Tea Leaf, based at the Uttlesford Community Hub, on September 30.

The venture provides paid and voluntary roles to people who may find it difficult to gain employment, and is being run by Enterprise East Group, an Uttlesford community interest company.

Since it first began two years ago, the company has held workshops with the aim of building people's confidence and skill-set. Participants can also practise and hone their new workplace skills at events in the community.

Participants include people with complex lives and support needs. For instance, they might have a learning or physical disability, mental health problems or a history of addiction.

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Samantha McReynolds, managing director at Enterprise East Group, said: "This is going to be a live training academy for people furthest from employment. The launch was wonderful, with more than 60 people attending.

"We have always wanted our own training academy but its money and its costs, but we got some funding from Essex Community Foundation and Uttlesford District Council and we put it all together and now we are able to run the training rooms. It's a fabulous achievement, we have worked so hard to bring it to fruition."

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When asked why it was decided to set the tearoom up in Dunmow, Samantha replied: "We are a rural community. People have to travel long distances for this type of training. If you look at the job centres, you have got Braintree and Harlow but you haven't really got anything in Uttlesford and for us to be able to offer this kind of training in our own community is just fantastic. We have been booked up every day, the community have really got behind us."

Although it only opened just over a week ago, there are already plans to extend the cafe's opening hours and offer more positions, Samantha added.

Currently, there are four paid positions at the cafe which have now been filled but volunteering positions and training opportunities are available. The Tea Leaf is open Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm.

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