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Down syndrome support group hopes to cook up a storm with new cafe project.

Down syndrome support group hopes to cook up a storm with new cafe project.

A Leeds support network for young people who have Down Syndrome is set to open a new café, offering training & work opportunities for its members, after securing a £5,000 grant.

Sunshine and Smiles is a parent-led charity that helps children and young people across Leeds, running speech and language therapy sessions and regular group activities. 

Now it is set to start up a café and community garden to help members get vital work experience after securing funding from the Wesleyan Foundation, which was set up by specialist financial services mutual Wesleyan to support community groups and charities.

Café 21 will be run by local volunteers and will help members get work-ready and learn vital skills for employment, while the garden will also be used to grow fresh produce for the café.

Ailith Harley-Roberts, Service Manager at Sunshine and Smiles, said: "It can be difficult for some of the young people we support to get the skills they need to secure jobs. We hope that this project will arm them with the experience they need to not only get a job, but to thrive in it.

"We're all so thankful to the Wesleyan Foundation for this funding, which will be invaluable for our members."

Vicki Wentworth, Wesleyan's Chief Customer Officer, said: "We often take for granted how difficult it can be for young people to find employment nowadays, so any initiative that aims to help them is a major benefit for them and their communities.

"Supporting Sunshine and Smiles will do just that and we're looking forward to seeing the café up and running and hearing about its success."

The Wesleyan Foundation was launched in June 2017 and has already provided more £300,000 in funding to 87 charities, community groups and social enterprises around the country.

For more information about the Wesleyan Foundation and to apply for funding visit

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