The Strawberry Line Cafe Project Interest Company (CIC) was set up in 2008 to restore and run a community cafe on Yatton Station in North Somerset. The station was a key location on the Strawberry Line Heritage Trail, a popular walking and cycling route, and had strong passenger numbers, including commuters.
The CIC recognised, via consultation with local residents and rail users, the need for a café in the area, and identified a disused building at the station as an ideal base. The project secured the support of community organisations, businesses and individual residents of Yatton, and – supported by the local community rail partnership – Network Rail and the train operator.
The group was established as a not-for-profit social enterprise, set up to employ and train adults with learning disabilities and enable them to gain the skills to work in the catering and hospitality industry.
The café currently employs several people with learning disabilities, who enjoy the same employment rights and pay as any employee working in a business. Where possible, the café also offers short-term work experience to young people with learning disabilities, usually in conjunction with their studies at a local college or special school.
The café also acts as a meeting place for local community and voluntary groups, hosting events such as coffee mornings and walking, craft or book groups.