A learning disability charity has taken on a much-loved café in the Portsmouth Civic Offices to offer crucial work training and employment.

Lily&Lime has teamed up with Portsmouth City Council to reopen The View to offer refreshments on-site for thousands of staff.

The View was closed in 2020 as a result of the Covid pandemic and its return has been welcomed by council staff keen for barista coffee, tasty food and the chance to support a social business.

Lily&Lime will initially be running the café for a six month trial period to test and refine its offer, with a view to taking on the service permanently.

The café will be open to council staff only from Tuesday to Thursday 9.30am to 2.30pm, offering hot drinks, homemade cakes, light lunches and healthy salads.

The View is the second Lily&Lime café, joining its first location on the top floor of Portsmouth Central Library. Both cafés offer work training, supported apprenticeships and employment to dozens of people with learning disabilities.

Lily&Lime is part of Minstead Trust, which works along the south coast to support over 300 people with learning disabilities. Its employability projects offer training and work experience that help to tackle the shockingly low rate of paid employment among people with learning disabilities in the UK, currently 5.1% (NHS Digital 2021).

Charlotte, who is supported to work at The View, said: ‘I am excited about working at The View. I’m looking forward to achieving good things there and helping my colleagues. It’s very busy, which I like as I like to try and keep up with the pace. I’m hoping that working there will help be become more independent and cope with the stress of work. I hope it is successful and raises as much money as it can for the charity.’

Lisa Lee, Minstead Trust’s Regional Director of Care in Portsmouth, said: ‘We are delighted to have taken on The View and grateful to Portsmouth City Council for the opportunity.

‘This is an exciting new outlet for people with learning disabilities to build their work skills and experience in a busy café environment. Having a job brings purpose and value to their lives and a sense of being part of something successful and worthwhile.

‘We hope this will help start to break down barriers in society for people with learning disabilities – helping to show that with the right support they can achieve incredible things.’

Councillor Lee Hunt, Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources, said: ‘We are delighted to welcome Lily&Lime to Portsmouth’s Civic Offices and to be working with Minstead Trust on the reopening of the View café.

‘It was important that we work with a supplier that supports the council’s values and our social value plan, creating social benefits that can make a real-life impact to people in Portsmouth. Through Lily&Lime, Minstead Trust will be able to offer valuable training and work opportunities for people with learning disabilities. We have seen what a positive impact the Trust’s approach has through the success of its popular Portsmouth Central Library café and I am sure that this new branch will be a huge hit.’

Find out more at www.minsteadtrust.org.uk/lilyandlime