“It will be missed” – Enable Scotland cafe in Arbroath to close
The Courier, by Rob McLaren
A learning disability charity has announced an award-winning social enterprise cafe in Arbroath is to close.
Darling’s Coffee Shop has been a popular fixture in the town’s High Street since 2012 after it was launched by Enable Scotland.
The project, which provides training and employment opportunities for young people with learning disabilities, was established thanks to a £970,000 award from the Big Lottery Fund.
Future funding fears emerged last year and in October the charity said it was exploring its options, including putting the cafe on the market as a going concern.
Enable Scotland chief executive Theresa Shearer said it was “with a heavy heart” that she revealed the cafe would close its doors.
She said: “Throughout this period our ambition has always been to identify a suitable and sustainable future for Darling’s.
“We have had discussions with a number of parties, and we’ve even been on the radio to ask for support, but we have now exhausted all options.
“Despite making every effort to achieve this, we have been unable to find a suitable new owner.
“At this point our staff and the people we support through Darling’s are our central priority. We will do everything possible to ensure they continue to have appropriate support throughout and beyond these changes at Darling’s.
“I would also like to emphasise that Enable Scotland remains fully committed to delivering high-quality employability services which produce positive and effective training and employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities. That will not change.”
The charity chief also praised the support the cafe had received from the community in Angus, adding: “I know it will be missed”.
A definite date for the closure has still to be determined by the charity.
The people aged between 16 and 30 who worked at the cafe gained employability skills and confidence.
The training programme involves young people in preparation of locally-sourced produce, as well as front of house duties serving customers.
Angus South MSP Graeme Day, who assisted the charity in their efforts to find a sustainable future for the cafe, said: “I share in Enable Scotland’s sadness, that despite making every effort to deliver a positive and sustainable outcome from talks with interested parties, we have not been able to achieve that ambition.
“I know the charity has done everything in their power to avoid this unfortunate but unavoidable outcome.
“I know that for the staff at Darling’s this will be a difficult time, but I am reassured that the charity has committed to ensure they continue to receive appropriate support.”
Darling’s was recognised in the Scottish Home Baking Awards 2013, winning the outstanding achievement award. And staff members took part in the baton relay for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games when it passed through Arbroath in 2014.