Coffee-shop Salutem aims to give more than just coffee to the local community, focusing on mental wellbeing and an awareness of the sensitivities surrounding learning difficulties and autism. The Northenden-based shop provides an inclusive environment, with low-lighting, quiet music, and communication aids designed to avoid sensory overload associated with autism.
Salutem also offers classes and workshops surrounding mental wellbeing, from pottery lessons to seminars on mental health. In the coming months, the store hopes to host coding classes for autistic people, helping to develop both IT skills and sociability. Further to this, Salutem currently works alongside two charities: Mencap, which provide opportunities for adults with learning disabilities to improve their social interaction skills whilst building on customer service and working safely; and The Challenge, which supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to have a safe space to explore their ideas and interest to support the community.
The £25,000 loan provided by GC Business Finance enabled Salutem to refurbish the property in order to prepare for opening. Renovation considerations were made specifically to create a calm and inclusive space – from comfortable seating, easier bathroom access and a sensory corner. The loan also enabled the purchase of vital equipment for the coffee-shop, enabling the opening of Salutem’s doors to the public in May this year.
Rachel Parkinson, founder and owner of Salutem, said: “Having worked with people with learning difficulties and as an emotional wellbeing practitioner, I know the importance of spaces like this. At Salutem, we want to make a difference in everything we do; from our coffee and snacks – which are locally and ethically sourced – to our ethos of putting people first and supporting them, we care about the community.
“Working with GC Business Finance has been fantastic. The loan has helped me to realise my dream of having an impact and changing people’s lives. Not only did they provide the funding, which was key to getting the door open, they have also been giving great support to me and the business. In particular, the workshops and business mentoring provided by the Growth Company has really helped me to understand how to run a successful company.
“Looking to the future, we want to make this the most inclusive space possible – we’ll be extending our classes to get more people involved and making the biggest change we can to this community.”
Alex Mearns, Loans Manager for Start-up Loans at GC Business Finance, said: “Salutem is the type of business we are truly pleased to invest in. From hearing the idea to meeting Rachel, the passion and desire to positively impact the community are immediately clear. In providing the finances for Salutem, we were happy to be able to support where the banks couldn’t, in order to support such an inclusive, forward-thinking business.”
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