Swan Friendship Cafe in Midland forced to close its doors due to lack of funds

Swan Friendship Cafe in Midland forced to close its doors due to lack of funds

THE Swan Friendship Cafe in Midland, which employs adults with a disability, will be forced to close its doors this Friday due to lack of funding.

wan Friendship Cafe in Midland, which employs adults with a disability, will be forced to close its doors this Friday due to lack of funding

Owner Maria Sorgiovanni said it was her only option unless major financial assistance was found for the Centrepoint business urgently.

“I’ve been here for almost 10 years,” Ms Sorgiovanni said.

“We provide home-made food while offering training and employment opportunities to young adults with disabilities.

“But we have been running at a loss for 12 months now and are no longer able to keep the cafe open.”

The cafe is part of the Swan Friendship Club of WA and despite being a registered charity, Ms Sorgiovanni said it did not receive funding for the service it provided.

“We received a one-off $50,000 grant a few years ago from Disability Services,” she said.

“But that went pretty quickly.

“The cafe costs $250,000 a year to run, which is more than an average cafe because everything is made in house.

“That means we have to cover ingredients, pay for power and so on, so we don’t make as much profit.

“But that’s what we do.”

Ms Sorgiovanni also said the Centrepoint shopping centre seemed quieter.

“People aren’t spending as much money,” she said.

“Our expenses have always been high, but it’s just the current economic climate.”

Inspired by youngest daughter Rebecca, the mother of four opened the cafe in 2006 after founding the Swan Friendship Club.

“Rebecca is blind and has an intellectual disability,” she said.

“But working here has been good for her.

“She’s very social; she loves people and they love her.

“My vision was for these kids to learn and work in a real job and that is what happened.”

Ms Sorgiovanni said the cafe’s eight workers gained skills and self-confidence from working – something that had taken many years to build up.

“They learn all aspects of the cafe: they help the chef, they get an opportunity to interact with the customers, clear tables – it’s amazing watching them grow. But all that will be taken from them if the cafe closes,” she said.

Ms Sorgiovanni pleaded with the Government to give her beloved cafe a lifeline.

“We’ve used all our reserves, so there’s nothing to fall back on,” she said.

“Without ongoing Government funding and without someone stepping in and helping us, we just can’t meet all the costs.”

City of Swan Mayor Mick Wainwright said the City was sad to hear of the cafe’s impending closure.

“While we are supportive of the concept and value the contribution Swan Friendship Cafe has made to the community, it has not sought formal funding from the City to date,” he said.

“We do encourage Swan Friendship Cafe to seek funding through not only the City’s grants program, but through community bodies in WA who may be able to directly assist.”

Ms Sorgiovanni said she was waiting to hear from the Government.

“Where are the politicians?” she said.

“They’ve visited the cafe and praised the work we do here, but I haven’t heard from one of them.

“Pats on the back don’t pay bills.”

Ms Sorgiovanni has set up a GoFundMe Page with the aim of raising $250,000 in the next fortnight to save the Swan Friendship Cafe.

More than $5000 had been raised in the first two days.

Go to www.gofundme.com/222 ap8hc.