Caption: From the left, Martin Nwangwa (CWLEP Growth Hub), Steve Cooper and Fran Scott (Forget Me Not café) and David Owen (CWRT)

Member Article

New café opening this summer thanks to Covid-19 recovery loan

A new café aimed at people Living with Dementia and disabilities is to be launched in Leamington this summer after receiving a Covid-19 recovery loan from Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT).

Fran Scott and Steve Cooper first came up with the idea for the Forget Me Not café four years ago and are now turning their dreams into reality having rented a property in Clarendon Avenue from Warwick District Council.

After contacting Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub for guidance on support, they were referred to the Coventry and Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT).

David Owen, Loans Officer from CWRT, visited the couple to discuss their plans and identified the Covid-19 Recovery Loan as their best source of financial assistance. CWRT has safeguarded 208 jobs and is forecasted to create 98 new job roles with Covid-19 Recovery Loans, for a total of 19 businesses.

The Recovery Loan Scheme is aimed at supporting businesses as well as accessing finance as they recover and grow from Covid-19. Businesses that have received funding from the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme or the Bounce Back Loan Scheme are able to access the support.

Fran Scott said this loan was a great help to Leamington Spa-based Forget Me Not café. “Following the end of lockdown, we have- moved forward with our plans and after contacting CWLEP Growth Hub, we got in touch with CWRT and they have helped us with a Recovery Loan. Without their help, we would not be in the position we are now in. “The loan has allowed us to move forward with our café plans that we have had in the works for four years – to create a dementia and disabled friendly café.’’

She has spoken to the Alzheimer’s Society and Age UK to receive advice on providing a home-from-home café for vulnerable members of the community.

Fran added: “We have taken their suggestions on how to develop the café with details such as not having black tiles on the floor since people with dementia can sometimes think there is a hole in the floor, and we’re going to have memory boxes with artifacts from the 1930s onwards because often people with dementia have short-term memory loss but can recall films or news events from their youth.

“We are now aiming to open in the next two months and as a charity, we are looking for volunteers from the community who are builders that could work at cost as well as volunteers to work in the café including those with learning disabilities.

“We are employing a fully-qualified chef to create all the items on the menu which we will be adapting for our customers, and we are also hoping to attract students and shoppers so that all members of the community can mingle with each other.”

Sheridan Sulskis, CEO at CWRT, said: “The Recovery Loan Scheme has been perfect for ventures such as the Forget Me Not café to receive access to finance to help with their recovery following the pandemic.

“Following the success of the Recovery Loan Scheme which comes to a close at the end of June, CWRT have several other funding options available to businesses that may be looking for financial support within Coventry and Warwickshire, and so I would urge any businesses who are in need of assistance to get in touch with us and see how we can help you.’’

Warwickshire County Council also committed significant funding to the Recovery Loan Scheme.
The council’s portfolio holder for economy, Cllr Martin Watson, also praised the plans for the café.

He said: “This is a wonderful example of how the loan can really benefit our communities and give them the power to tackle the issues that affect them locally.

“This loan is not only helping to safeguard a business. It is also helping that business to provide an absolutely essential service to improve the quality of life for some of our more vulnerable residents as well as employment opportunities for others. I’m delighted that the county council has lent its support.”

Martin Nwangwa, account manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, added: “We made the initial approach to find out if there was an opportunity to provide assistance, and we initially referred the Forget Me Not café to Coventry & Warwickshire CDA for charity grants, and then CWRT.

“It is great to have played a part in helping the charity get up and running and underlines that the Growth Hub is here to help in all sectors to boost the economy.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Matt Joyce .

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