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Loaf moves in to Belfast City Hall

Bobbin Coffee Shop Loaf

Gauge NI's sister social enterprise Loaf Catering has taken over the management of Belfast City Hall’s Bobbin Coffee Shop.

Loaf Catering opened for business at the prestigious venue ahead of Northern Ireland’s first ‘Social Saturday’ – a UK-wide initiative taking place this coming Saturday (September 13th) that aims to raise awareness of social enterprises and calls on politicians and public and private sector businesses to do more business with them.

The business marked the opening of its latest café at The Bobbin by calling on local public and private sector businesses to #Buysocial ahead of Social Saturday and bring more social enterprise businesses into their supply chains.

Social enterprises are money-making businesses that invest profits into good works that have a positive impact on people, communities and the environment.

As with Gauge NI, Loaf Catering’s profits support the work of our parent organisation the NOW Group, a social enterprise itself that provides support for people with barriers to employment and learning across Northern Ireland.  Loaf’s kitchens are also accredited training sites where it provides 20 training and work experience placements-a-week for NOW’s catering trainees with learning difficulties.

The Bobbin Coffee shop will be Loaf’s fourth cafe and is the latest success story in the continued expansion of the business in what is becoming a watershed year for the social enterprise and its advocacy of the #BuySocial ethos. It recently opened a coffee shop Springvale Employment and Learning Solutions campus headquarters on the Springfield Road in West Belfast and won a number of large catering contracts across all sectors, including a prestigious one with NICVA. 2015 will see the unveiling of a brand new Loaf café, bakery and community hub on the site of the old Oak Bar – the last derelict building on Belfast’s Grosvenor Road - generating much-needed jobs and training opportunities for the local area.

Speaking at the reopening of The Bobbin Coffee Shop under Loaf Catering’s management, NOW Group Chief Executive Maeve Monaghan said:  “I am thrilled that Belfast City Council has chosen a thriving social enterprise catering business such as Loaf to take over the management of this busy coffee shop right in the heart of Belfast City Hall.

“It is so important that high profile organisations such as Belfast City Council are seen to be doing business with social enterprises, particularly ahead of Social Saturday.  Loaf is a profit-making catering and café business, it’s just what we do with our profit that is different.  We are using this opportunity to call on all businesses to follow Belfast City Council’s lead and think of ways to integrate social enterprise into their supply chain.

“We’re going to be putting our money where our mouth is too by endeavouring to stock food and giftware made by social enterprise businesses from across the country.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nichola Mallon, said: “I am delighted that Belfast City Council has chosen Loaf, a social enterprise business, to take over such a prime public location at City Hall. It will provide local people with learning difficulties with a great opportunity to experience the world of work and equip them with essential training skills that they can use in their future development. I have already sampled some of the delights on offer and have no doubt Loaf will be a huge success.”

Chair of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy & Resources Committee, Councillor Lee Reynolds, said: “The awarding of the Bobbin tender to Loaf Catering will create training and employment opportunities and put money back into the work of a very worthy social enterprise such as this to help support the work that it does.  Social enterprises have a lot to offer the local business community.  They have a lot to offer to our society too.  Our council encourages the use of social enterprises and we also encourage the use of social clauses to maximize the benefits and we believe that’s a model that others should head towards.”

Social Saturday takes place across the UK on September 13th.  For more information on activities and events in Northern Ireland, visit www.socialenterpriseni.org or follow the hashtag #SocialSaturday.

The Bobbin Coffee Shop’s opening hours are: Monday to Friday, from 9am to 4.30pm; Saturday from 10am to 4pm, and; closed on Sunday.  Opening hours may vary during public holidays.

PICTURE CAPTION: Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nichola Mallon, Chair of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, Councillor Lee Reynolds, and Chief Executive of NOW Group Maeve Monaghan celebrate the reopening of Belfast City Hall’s Bobbin Café under the management of the social enterprise Loaf Catering.  Loaf Catering’s profits support the work of its parent organisation the NOW Group, a social enterprise itself that provides support for people with barriers to employment and learning across Northern Ireland.  Loaf’s kitchens are also accredited training sites where it provides 20 training and work experience placements-a-week for NOW Group’s catering trainees with learning difficulties.  

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Gauge NI: 15-17 Grosvenor Road, Belfast, BT12 4GN