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City centre cafe serves up its last ever cup of tea

PUBLISHED: 20:02 12 July 2019 | UPDATED: 20:02 12 July 2019

Parkside School, in College Road took over the running of the White Lion Cafe, on White Lion Street in 2015 to provide pupils with work experience and help boost their career prospects.. Photo : Steve Adams

Parkside School, in College Road took over the running of the White Lion Cafe, on White Lion Street in 2015 to provide pupils with work experience and help boost their career prospects.. Photo : Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2016

An award-winning Norwich cafe run by pupils at a complex needs special school has served its last cup of tea.

Parkside School, in College Road took over the running of the White Lion Cafe, on White Lion Street in 2015 to provide pupils with work experience and help boost their career prospects.. Photo : Steve AdamsParkside School, in College Road took over the running of the White Lion Cafe, on White Lion Street in 2015 to provide pupils with work experience and help boost their career prospects.. Photo : Steve Adams

Parkside School, in College Road, took over the running of the White Lion Cafe, on White Lion Street, in 2015 to provide pupils with work experience and help boost their career prospects.

But, after four very successful years which saw the cafe win national and local awards as well as help dozens of students boost their confidence in the work place, the cafe has closed for the final time.

Ben Holderness, headteacher of Parkside School, said the decision to close the cafe had been two-fold, taking into account pupils' needs and the school's future funding.

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He said: "[The White Lion] has been a very successful venture for those pupils who have had experience in the cafe and they have had some great outcomes... but we have reached as stage as a school where we are taking more and more children with greater complex needs and we have realised that the cafe won't meet the needs of everyone.

"So we have reached a point where we need to look at different ways of supporting people into employment and of course not all of our pupils find the cafe environment suits them," he said.

Mr Holderness said the school's future funding and use of resources had also played a part in the decision to close the cafe, he said: "We are in an uncertain position in terms of future funding for the school and we 
felt that we had to make the decision now, we don't know 
what the finances will look like 
in the next two years. It's taking due diligence."

Serving customers for the last time on Saturday, July 6, Mr Holderness said the last day of business had been an emotional one, he said: "We had staff members and pupils for whom [the cafe] is obviously very close to their hearts it was a very emotional end to it."

The White Lion Café which was taken on by Parkside Schoo in 2015 has closedl. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe White Lion Café which was taken on by Parkside Schoo in 2015 has closedl. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Holderness said that while the cafe had closed he hoped it wouldn't be the end of the cafe and it's work, he said: "We are looking to other organisations who may wish to have a conversation with myself about the next step for the cafe, anyone who wishes to take it on and continue its work."

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