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Single mums' community cafe success.

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As the Office for National Statistics releases a further unemployment rise of 8.4% today, Bromford is delighted to announce the success of two single mums* who have gone from unemployment to running their own business and helping the community at the same time.

Tasha and Debs, both aged 34, live in a deprived area of Birmingham - the King's Norton '3 estates' area -and, with support from Bromford Group, Birmingham City Council and other local partners, have taken over the running of a café that was being closed down.

The community café was set up as a not for profit social enterprise and opened its doors on 29 March 2011. The social aims built into the business are designed to meet the needs of the local community.

Tasha said: "We had been using the café as a meeting point with other parents and so we just had to save it though it was daunting as we'd never run a café in our lives. I had only worked part-time before and Debs had never worked so it was daunting and there has been a lot of tears and sweat involved!"

'Tasha and Deb's café' has become the centre of the community providing a meeting point for elderly and lonely residents, somewhere to get healthy food and a place for mums and children to get together.

The café now provides computer access with five computers available and training sessions given on emailing, internet and social media. One local man has learnt to use Facebook and has been in contact with his family in Dublin for the first time in 45 years and is now moving there to live in early March.

Tasha and Debs ran the business between them to start with. Tasha said: "We've never worked so hard! We were up till 5am the day before opening getting the painting finished!" Now they have four volunteers and future plans include extending opening times from 3pm to 5pm for after school groups and organising monthly activities for older residents such as bingo and cheese and wine evenings.

Tasha concluded: "There have been times when we didn't think we could do it and now we're approaching our first birthday. It has become our whole lives and to be given a chance when others didn't believe in us makes us very proud."

Elaine Browne, neighbourhood investment manager for Bromford, said: "I have worked with Tasha and Debs from the beginning and supported them with things like development of the business planning, attracting external funding and the day to day running of the business. They have had a very difficult year and been on a huge learning curve, but 12 months on they are an inspiration to others."

*Tasha and Debs have seven children between them aged from 6 to 15.

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