Ex-teacher opens Hungry Caterpillar cafe and craft venue to serve families and help young people
A former teacher and chef has combined her skills to kick-start a new career.
Stacey Watson has opened the doors to her community cafe - The Hungry Caterpillar in Grange Road, Jarrow.
The venue, which is spread over two floors, aims to give people with youngsters a place they can go, relax while their little ones play.
She also aims to provide work experience placements to those who struggle academically, so they can gain vocational skills to help them further their careers.
Mrs Watson, who left teaching to care for her son - who suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome - said: “We have got the cafe downstairs and a children’s craft room upstairs which is looked after by a fully qualified nursery nurse.
“I wanted to create a nice and warm environment where people can come with their children.
“I also wanted to provide a place where parents of children with special needs can also come along and feel comfortable.”
She added: “I am also a fully qualified teacher which I am using to support people who come in on work experience to help them towards gaining a qualification in hospitality.
“I’ve already got students from the South Tyneside College who come in on placements.”
Over the coming months, Mrs Watson, who is also a trained chef, hopes to introduce cooking classes for children after hours as well as an after school club.
She has also joined forces with Williby Roc - a craft group which hosts environmentally friendly craft parties, events and workshops using recyclable, pre-loved and woodland materials - to enhance the classes already on offer, including story tots, active art and sensory sessions.
Mrs Watson said: “The cafe is quite new and being off the main street not many people know we are here.
“But we are doing quite well with people coming back to see us and new faces coming in all the time.
“We offer a range of homecooked foods and have a pensioners afternoon tea available.”
The cafe is open Monday to Saturday from 9.30am until 3pm.
The venue can also be booked for private parties and provide outside catering.
For details of events and activity sessions visit The Hungry Caterpillar Community Cafe on Facebook.