Community champions join forces to create Special Connections for young adults with additional needs.

A new Community Interest Company has been launched by a trio of women with a long record of supporting families in North Staffordshire and beyond.

Mother and daughter Steph Talbot and Emily Petts have joined forces with Charlie Beswick to found Special Connections CIC.

And they’ve successfully launched Loui’s Café offering great food alongside work experience opportunities for young adults with additional needs.

Loui’s Café, with premises at Paris Avenue, the Westlands, Newcastle-under-Lyme, is named after Emily’s son, Loui, who is 19 years old and has autism and learning difficulties.

Emily said: “Loui’s Café is all about providing opportunities for young adults who, like Loui, have additional needs. We want to give them an opportunity to try to move into work in a highly supported environment.

A chance to experience work empowers these amazing young people who just need to be given a chance.

Launching a café is a great way for Special Connections to start providing new opportunities – creating positive outcomes over a cup of tea and a slice of cake.”

Steph and Emily founded Alice Charity, supporting thousands of families with emotional and practical help in Newcastle and Stoke-on-Trent from 2011 to 2022.

Steph said: “Our first project as Alice charity was Big Cup, a free baby and toddler group, a place for mums to get a cup of tea in a supportive environment, so there are similarities. This time, we have created a café. It’s much needed for the Westlands community and will be open from Tuesday to Saturday each week.”

The duo has been joined by Charlie Beswick who has campaigned over several years and provides emotional and practical support to the parents of children with special needs.

Charlie, from Biddulph, draws on her experiences as mum of Harry, who has Goldenhar syndrome and autism. Her awareness raising posts on various social media platforms led to Charlie, from Biddulph, being invited to speak at many events and to the launch of SEND Gin and Cheese CIC earlier this year, with face-to-face events in North Staffordshire, Manchester, and London supporting the Facebook group.

Charlie said: “I’m delighted to join Steph and Emily at Special Connections CIC and to support Loui’s Café, which is our first project.

“Special Connections is founded with a determination to challenge the lack of opportunities for young people with additional needs as they leave college. The transition between college and the world of work particularly challenging and we are here to create practical work experience opportunities for these inspirational young adults to achieve their potential”.


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