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Birch Tree Cafe at Easton-on-the-Hill named Best New Start-up the Mercury Business Awards 2023





A community café which is partly staffed by young adults with Down's Syndrome was named Best New Start-up at the Mercury Business Awards.

Birch Tree Cafe opened in Easton-on-the-Hill in January 2022. It was set up by the charity T-21 with the aim of providing meaningful opportunities for over 18s who have Down's Syndrome.

The cafe initially supported 10 young adults but the number has now grown to 29. The business has also doubled its predicted turnover and the number of staff it employs.

Birch Tree Cafe receives the Best New Start-Up award at the Mercury Business Awards 2023 from Mary Freeland, of headline sponsor and category judge Upp
Birch Tree Cafe receives the Best New Start-Up award at the Mercury Business Awards 2023 from Mary Freeland, of headline sponsor and category judge Upp

Trustees collected their award from category sponsor and judge Mary Freeland of Upp.

She said: “It was not an easy task to judge as the calibre of finalists made it very difficult for us.

“The award goes to a new start-up that has massively overachieved on their initial plan, exceeding at everything including customer numbers, sales, employment and the number of young people with Down’s Syndrome they hep on their path towards more independence.

Upp is headline sponsor of the Mercury Business Awards 2023
Upp is headline sponsor of the Mercury Business Awards 2023

“Their impact in the community is huge.”

Accepting the award, chairperson of trustees Maggie Scott said: “Thank you to my fellow trustees and our wonderful staff, but mostly thank you to our young people who have made us so proud.

“The cafe has exceeded our expectations in all ways and has been a whole team effort.”

The team from Birch Tree Cafe head to the stage to collect their Best New Start Up award at the Mercury Business Awards 2023
The team from Birch Tree Cafe head to the stage to collect their Best New Start Up award at the Mercury Business Awards 2023

As well as running the cafe, the Birch Tree team also provide social activities for the young adults and the opportunity for them to learn new skills. A new workshop is soon to open at the site in New Road, offering a space to learn DIY skills.

Also: Photos from the awards

The others finalists for best new start-up were The Rutland Vineyard, Ketton and True Skin and Laser, Deeping Gate.



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