National recognition for Team JJ, volunteers with learning disabilities who run popular Darlington cafe

First published in News by

A GROUP of people with learning disabilities could receive a national accolade for their work running a cafe in Darlington.

Team JJ has been shortlisted in the community group category of the National Diversity Awards, which honours outstanding achievements of grass root communities across the UK.

The team consists of nine people with learning difficulties who work together to run Cafe JJ, a lively venture that sees them offer home cooked food every Tuesday in the Clifton Community Centre.

The cafe was established in 2007 by husband and wife Joe and Val Hutchinson whose son John has Down’s Syndrome.

It was set up to allow John to pursue his interest in catering and has expanded to provide opportunities for those with learning difficulties to develop a variety of skills.

Mrs Hutchinson said: “We could receive a major national award and that’s all down to the hard work of Team JJ.

“It’s nice to see they are being recognised and they’re unique within these awards as they’re usually given to communities but this is disabled people working hard to serve their community.

“Through Cafe JJ, they’ve all gained confidence and have formed a big group of friends, they socialise and learn many different skills.”

Winners will be announced at a prestigious black-tie event in London in September.

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