Café run by former prisoners to open early next year after smashing fundraising target

Laura Gallery, of The Larder Club, at the site on Blake Street in York. Photograph: Laura Gallery

More than £14,500 has been raised through a crowdfunding campaign to open a new cafe – set to be run by former female prisoners.

The Larder Club – an Italian deli and food shop – could open in York city centre early in the new year.

A crowdfunding campaign launched by former charity worker Laura Gallery to help establish the project aimed to raise £8,000 to get the initiative off the ground.

But 87 kind-hearted fundraisers backed the plans – with many of them praising the idea as a positive way to help people get back into work.

Laura said the deli with offer training and employment for women who have formerly been in jail at HMP Askham Grange.

Changing lives

She said she wants to help vulnerable people, many of whom may have been victims of abuse or suffered mental health problems, adding:

  • I feel passionately about empowering women to change their lives for the better and I decided to do something about it. So here is The Larder Club.

    Being York born and bred I love what Yorkshire as a county has to offer but I am also in love with Italy, where I’ve spent some brilliant times enjoying great coffee, wine and fantastic food.

    I want to offer our customers a great experience enjoying a taste of Italy whilst helping a cause that is close to my heart – the rehabilitation of women offenders.

    With this as our focus, The Larder Club not only aims to increase employment prospects for the women we work with but to also build confidence and pride within a space where every person can be valued as the individual they are.

She said she has been “overwhelmed” by support for the project and encouraged by “absolutely priceless” comments.

Work has now begun to fit out the cafe – in the former York Cocoa House on Blake Street.