Oasis Cafe – CIC

Summary

Bubble Enterprises was one of the UK’s first community interest companies, yet our earliest social enterprise as a CIC is one of our most successful to date. In 2007, we established the Oasis Café in at Stockport’s Stepping Hill Hospital, which ploughs an estimated £90,000 into the local mental health economy every year.

Challenges

As an early proponent of social enterprise, Bubble launched as a CIC to support people with mental health needs achieve independence through enterprise. The opportunity arose to put our vision into practice when Pennine Care Mental Health Trust and Stockport Council put out a tender for the creation of a community café at Stepping Hill Hospital. 

The project called for a high street quality café in a mental health unit that would serve patients and visitors, fulfilling a general need. Bubble outlined the added potential for social enterprise and in 2007, we won the tender to create a community café that would directly support the local mental health economy.

The following formed the project’s overarching objectives:

  • Support people with mental health difficulties back into the mainstream 
  • Generate sustainable income for the local mental health economy 
  • Prove a quality service to fulfil a need and benefit the community 

The process

The project presented an ideal opportunity to support people with mental health difficulties while also satisfying a need within the hospital. Bubble worked with stakeholders to oversee the design and construction of the Oasis Café, with the end vision of creating work opportunities for people facing mental health challenges.

Using a model for enterprise that we’d perfected with our MBA expertise, Bubble opened the Oasis Café in 2007 as a high quality, break-even business with social enterprise at its core. We handled the hiring of staff and full management of the café until governance had been arranged some 18 months later, taking on all the risk until then.

Now a CIC in its own is now a right, the Oasis Café is managed by Bubble Enterprises as part of an ongoing partnership with the local council and mental health trust.

Outcomes

It was Bubble’s goal to establish Oasis as a high street quality café, which we achieved through overseeing the design of the café and subsequently managing the venture. Alongside fulfilling a local need, we saw the potential in creating opportunities at the café through social enterprise. 

The Oasis Café sells products created by people with mental health difficulties and also provides opportunities for employment, taking on volunteers with mental health difficulties who are then able to work their way up to paid management roles. Through this experience, people facing mental health challenges are able to build confidence, become self-sufficient and make the transition back into the mainstream. 

In 2019, the Oasis Café celebrated its tenth year as a successful CIC underpinned by social enterprise. According to estimates, the Oasis Café pumps around £90,000 into the local mental health economy annually.