New cafe and retro sweet shop opens in Northampton to support young adults with learning disabilities

'Everyone here has really pulled together to make this dream come to life. That we were able to get an entirely new site up and running through this difficult year is a huge testament to all of them'

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 4:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 4:38 pm

Residents in Kingsthorpe now have a new place to grab their morning coffee after a new cafe opened its doors to customers on Harborough Road.

The Place To Bee is spread over two floors of a newly renovated site with the ground floor consisting of the cafe as well as a retro sweet shop called The Sweet Bee - all staffed by young adults with learning disabilities

The cafe opened its doors to customers for takeaway services on Monday (April 12) following the partial easing of lockdown restrictions. The new High Sheriff of Northamptonshire, Amanda Lowther, attended the official opening.

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Employees at 'The Place To Bee', Sam and Mary, get ready to welcome their first customers!
Employees at 'The Place To Bee', Sam and Mary, get ready to welcome their first customers!

She said: "It’s so wonderful to see the doors open for this amazing place. Everyone looked so happy to be welcoming customers for the first time and my cakes were utterly delicious!”

The site is equipped for vocational training in retail and hospitality and the upper floor is a fully functioning life skills flat where young adults with learning disabilities can learn basic skills like cooking, washing clothes and making a bed.

The Place To Bee was the inspiration of the executive head teacher of Northgate School Arts College, Shez Webb.

It built on the success of The Bee Hive - a vocational college for 16-19 year-olds with special needs. Shez, however, noticed a problem.

The brand new site at 67-69 Harborough Road, Northampton (opposite Nationwide)

What happens to these young adults after the age of 19? Learning disabilities are for life. While some may leave The Bee Hive ready for the world of work or further education, this is not the case for all.

Too often, staff were finding that former students, who had done so excellently at The Bee Hive, had nowhere to go afterwards.

What they were seeing on the ground was part of a broader national problem. According to the Bee Hive, there are 1.5 million people with learning disabilities in the UK - 94 per cent are unemployed.

The Place To Bee aims to be part of the solution. It has a variety of programmes to support young adults to develop the skills they need to find employment either in the paid or in the voluntary sector.

The High Sheriff of Northamptonshire, Amanda Lowther, opened the new cafe in Kingsthorpe

Shez said: “Everyone here has really pulled together to make this dream come to life. That we were able to get an entirely new site up and running through this difficult year is a huge testament to all of them."

The team at The Place To Bee have local charity, The Goed Life, to thank for the fundraising muscle they able to lend to this project to transform it from a vision to reality.

The Goed Life is a local charity dedicated to enhancing the lives of those with learning disabilities. You can find out more about their work on The Goed Life website.The Place To Bee is open from 9.30am to 3.30pm on Mondays through to Saturdays.