THE HARD work of a group of people with learning difficulties could see them net a national award.

The team behind Darlington’s Cafe JJ could be in the running for a prestigious National Diversity Award.

Supporters of the popular cafe are being encouraged to nominate its staff for the Community Organisation Award ahead of a ceremony taking place later this year.

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The cafe, based at the Clifton Community Centre, is run by a team of ten volunteers who have learning difficulties.

Each member works for more than ten hours a week, using their skills to produce food and serve customers.

The cafe – which hosts around 60 customers every Tuesday – was established in 2007 by husband and wife Joe and Val Hutchinson, whose son John has Down’s Syndrome.

The enterprise was set up to allow John to pursue his interest in catering and has expanded to provide opportunities for others with learning difficulties.

Earlier this year, the team’s efforts were recognised when they won the Community Group of the Year Accolade at the eVOLution Excellence Awards, held in Darlington.

To nominate the group for a National Diversity Award, visit before Friday, July 18 and select the community organisation awards disability option.

For more information about the cafe, visit