Business

Social enterprise creates 20 new jobs through two new cafés

(left to right): Paul Adair, chef John Lyttle, Usel CEO Bill Atkinson, Robert McIlroy and Bronagh Donnelly at the opening of the Ability at the Drawbridge Café at the Ecos Centre in Ballymena, Co Antrim

A SOCIAL enterprise which specialises in finding employment for people with disabilities or long-term health conditions has opened two new cafés with the creation of 20 new jobs.

Ulster Supported Employment Ltd (Usel) opened the Ability at the Drawbridge Café at Ballymena's Ecos Centre earlier this month.

It also launched the Ability Café at the new acute mental health inpatient centre in Belfast City Hospital last month.

The café at Ecos Centre will provide employment for people with a range of disabilities.

The building was closed for several years but has since been renovated at the cost of £1.6 million

Usel will be working alongside Mid and East Antrim Council and Catalyst Inc which has taken over the running of the building.

Usel chief executive Bill Atkinson said the social enterprise was pleased to be part of the rejuvenation of the site.

"We look forward to providing employment for people within the local community, particularly those with a disability or health condition," he said.

"We aim to provide first-class bistro style services for people using the nature park - from families with young children to dog walkers.

"We will have something for everyone."

He said the café at Belfast City Hospital, in partnership with the Belfast health trust, will provide valuable training.

"This is our second café in partnership with the trust and we are delighted to see this relationship strengthen and grow," he said.

"As well as running the café it will be a safe training environment for people who have faced mental health issues and are ready to return to work through supported employment."

Usel works in partnership with 150 organisations to help get people back into employment.

It operates training programmes to assist people with disabilities to gain the qualifications and skills they need.

Last year the company found sustainable employment for more than 900 people.

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