A charity which looks after people with learning disabilities celebrate the official opening of its new cafe in a library.

A host of special guests were invited to Watford Mencap's event as it marked its news hub in Watford Library, in Hempstead Road.

Fundraisers, including business partners, councillors, and Dan Dark, managing director and senior director of Watford Studios in Leavesden, also attended.

The ‘Café in the Library’, which cost £30,000, will offer library users and members of the public a vibrant setting to enjoy a cup of coffee and cake, with all proceeds going to Watford Mencap.

It is mainly being run by volunteers as well as trainees with learning disabilities, teaching them vital skills which they can then transfer into the future workplace.

£2,000 was provided to the café by Watford Borough Council from the Small Grants Fund.

Joe Lacey has been working at the café for two weeks.

The 26-year-old from South Oxhey, who worked at the previous café for more than a year says he enjoys the opportunity to chat to customers.

“I love the experience working here and talking to people.

"It’s also helping me with my numbers working with change on the tills. And the food is great too. I recommend the chocolate fudge cake,” he laughed.

Dan Dark acknowledged the “fascinating journey” that Mencap have been on to reach this stage.

“Mencap has evolved over the years on this fascinating journey. It’s not just about giving. Congratulations on this new place and what Mencap do is amazing.”

Watford Mencap is one of Councillor Jagtar Singh Dhindsa’s charities of the year. He hailed the café as a “great initiative”.

“Mencap do wonderful work. I appreciate all the work volunteers do and they need to be valued. It’s an opportunity for them to work in a safe environment and rebuild their confidence.”

Jane Pattinson, CEO of Watford Mencap, added: “Everyone worked so hard together donating their time, knowledge, and experience. I hope that this café provides a platform for people to learn more about living with a learning disability.”

The café is currently open five days a week from 9.30am-5pm but they hope to extend hours to seven days a week in the new year.

More than £16,000 was raised to fund the café, with the rest coming from Mencap’s own fundraising, Watford Community Housing and John Lewis. 

The café is being run by Mencap’s own trainees and volunteers.