LADY Dixon Park has long been one of Belfast’s best spots to relax, socialise or get active. With the opening of a new Ability Café, nestled amongst the park’s trees and greenery, it now has an excellent eatery to match.
As well as providing first-class food, drinks and service, Ability Café at the Stables is a social enterprise that makes a lasting difference to the lives of people with disabilities and health conditions.
Opened in January, the Stables is one of four Ability Café’s run by Usel, the North’s largest supporter of people with disabilities in employment.
Having branched into hospitality, Usel plans to create a total of 50 jobs in the sector by 2021, supporting people in their transitional journey to work. Its Ability Café’s have gone from strength to strength and the Stables, Usel’s Karen Gilgunn explains, is already proving a success for employees and customers alike.
“It’s a commercial business just like any other business, but because it’s a social enterprise all of the profits are reinvested back into Usel, which allows us to create more jobs for people with disabilities and health conditions,” she says.
“Lady Dixon is an extremely popular park and we thought the café had a lot of potential, so it seemed like a natural next step opportunity for us.
“It’s a great location with great people, and the staff who worked here previously are working with us as well, so we’ve been able to continue to provide employment for them.”
At the heart of each Ability Café is an ethos that looks to offer training and development opportunities for people by working around their existing capabilities and skills.
“One of the things that we pride ourselves on is that we look at the ability of the person with the disability or health condition and we don’t look at their health condition,” Karen explains.
The ability on offer at the Stables has brought a new energy and new vibe to Lady Dixon that is already proving a hit with customers, with an extensive and reasonably priced menu that includes speciality teas and coffees, sandwiches, hot food, vegan items and more.
Every £1 spent at and Ability Café generates £18 social value, helping Usel provide further support for the people it serves. The cause is, of course, every bit as good as the food.