York shop providing training for people with learning disabilities seeks new premises
9:30am Wednesday 28th May 2014 in News
THE hunt is on to find new premises to secure the future of a York shop which provides training for people with learning disabilities.
Mermaid and Miller is looking for a new venue after more than a year trading from its shop in Swinegate.
The not-for-profit social enterprise, which is run as a co-operative and sells goods made by disabled people, has been unable to extend the lease on its current property.
Shop manager Paul Jones says staff were "gutted" to be in the position of having to find somewhere new but vowed "the show will go on".
He said: "We always find a way, though we owe it to our trainees to search for the best place for us to grow and develop.
"This is really a plea to help us find a shop space that we can afford and that works for the people we support."
The shop is run by the Blueberry Academy, which trains people with learning difficulties at the Melbourne Centre, Fishergate.
Mermaid & Miller was formed as a cooperative in early 2012, and profits from sales of the works are distributed between its members.
Its pieces were sold at the We Are Your Emporium shop in Micklegate then the Blueberry Academy decided to set up its own shop in April last year.
The shop also stocks goods from other local organisations, including Brunswick Organic Nursery, and The Disabled Workers co-operative.
On hearing the news that Mermaid and Miller has not secured its lease, the York Disabled Workers Co-operative said in a statement: "We would like to say how disappointed we were to hear that the Mermaid and Miller retail shop in Swinegate is soon going to lose the premises.
"We are one of the organisations who have been able to sell our products via the shop since it opened.
"It has been a great opportunity for us not only to sell our products, but to spread the word about our organisation and the goods we produce.
"Our aim is to employ disabled people and provide them with support, while producing wooden goods of a very high standard.
"We very much hope that Mermaid and Miller will be able to continue trading, and that we can be a part of it well into the future."
Mr Jones added: "It is important to keep costs down, so that money can be reinvested into the service for the trainees, and essential to have accessible premises so that people with limited mobility can fully access the training.
"Mermaid and Miller is looking for offers of affordable temporary or permanent accommodation within York to continue this successful project."
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