Outside The Box Café


Outside The Box Café is an inclusive community café based in Ilkley, Bradford. The cafe is run by local charity, Ilkley Community Enterprise Ltd and enables young people and adults who have learning disabilities to live more fulfilled, independent and healthier lives.


Key information

  • Focus area

    Social lending
  • Investment type

    Enterprise debt
  • Region

    Yorkshire and the Humber
  • Challenge

    There are currently 1.5 million people with learning disabilities in the UK, however only 23% of working age adults (aged 18 to 64) with a learning disability have a paid job and fewer than 5% of those with the highest support needs have a paid job. People with learning disabilities can struggle with confidence and self-esteem as a result of feeling socially isolated due to a lack of support and opportunities for participation in work and leisure activities.

  • Approach

    Outside The Box Café opened in 2013 and is designed to provide a real-life working environment for members. It provides a space for adults with learning disabilities which is fully inclusive and embedded in the local community. As well as learning new skills in the café, members can partake in a range of workshops entitled ‘Choices’ which help members to develop their skills, gain qualifications, build confidence, express their creativity and strengthen social relationships and community connections.

  • Revenue model

    The café is run as a commercial operation generating a trading income as well as fee income from services to members. Ilkley has a thriving marketplace, with many other local and national cafes, so they have had to maintain a unique edge to successfully compete with other businesses in the area. They have done this by developing a loyal customer base, innovating their services for members and customers and developing strong links across the local communities.

  • Impact

    The café helps to build confidence in individuals, as well as life and employability skills and where possible supports individuals to transition into paid work. Outside the Box supports over 70 people each week, has helped more than 20 members secure paid jobs and works with over 30 employer partners.

    ‘Outside The Box has helped with getting myself more confident and I have learned how to work as a team – skills that have helped me get a paid job at 39 café.’ Anna, Outside The Box Café member.

  • Social impact investment has enabled to purchase a brand new building and to realise a vision for Outside The Box of us having a permanent home for the work of the charity and most importantly for the people we serve.


    Louise Hale


Increasing impact through investment

Outside The Box Café supports adults with learning difficulties to grow in confidence and learn new skills for the workplace. They have used social impact investment to secure new premises and expand services for their members.