Sitting down in the familiar and homelike Pulp Friction café, located inside of The National Justice Museum, we met with Jill Carter, who founded Pulp  Friction alongside her daughter Jessie Carter-Kay. 

Pulp Friction is a social enterprise which provides volunteering opportunities, support and employs young people with learning disabilities, helping them to develop work-readiness, social and independence skills.

Pulp Friction run pedal-powered smoothie bars as well as run several cafes across Nottingham. A fun, friendly and supportive environment is ensured, and members are encouraged to work at their own pace and to their own strengths.

When Jessie, who has a moderate learning disability, was 18 she decided she was ready to join the working world and chose to work in the hospitality industry, applying for jobs at a few restaurants.

After being unsuccessful in being offered an opportunity, her mother Jill vowed to help Jessie find a place of work where her learning disability wasn’t the focus and a place where Jessie would have the opportunity to show her skills.

After thinking about and researching ideas, in 2009, when visiting the Robin Hood Festival in Sherwood Forest, Jill and Jessie happened across a stationary bike, that when pedalled, made smoothies!

Chatting with the owner of the smoothie bike, the gentlemen gave Jill and Jessie all the information they needed and there began their first idea of how to get Jessie into work.

Shortly after, Jessie and four friends applied for The Youth Opportunities Fund, a government grant that provides money for young people to use on activities and projects.

They were granted funding of £1800 and there began the Pulp Friction Smoothie Bar Project. The money was used to start their new business venture and helped them to buy a smoothie bike, laptop and mobile telephone.

One of their first events was at a Youth Club where they pedalled away and made delicious smoothies for its members.

Whilst there, a parent came over and asked if Jessie could take the bike along to his BBQ in the next few days and offered to pay for the service. Soon, the word was out, and the Pulp Friction Smoothie Bar was attending events such as school fairs, youth clubs, play schemes, community festivals and more.

With Jill working a full-time job, the limitation of time she had to invest in Pulp Friction began to take its toll as she dreamed of being able to turn it into a successful business.

In 2011, Jill took voluntary redundancy and gave herself 6 months to develop the project.

With fear creeping in, Jill took on a part-time role and developed the project in her spare time.

In 2014/15, the Pulp Friction Smoothie Bar Project was running as a business and earning money that was being put straight back into the business and enabled the team to buy more equipment.

In total, they now have five smoothie bikes plus one ice cream and sorbet bike.

From there, Pulp Friction grew and started running cooking courses, opened Pulp Friction Allotment – a Dig-In Community Allotment in Stapleford and after taking a smoothie bike along to an event at Bestwood fire station, where they were offered the stations empty kitchen to use if they wished.

The following January, Pulp Friction opened its first cafe, where its members could experience a real working environment.

Taking on more volunteers, Pulp Friction was training more people with learning disabilities how to front a business and grow their confidence.

Later, Pulp Friction came across an empty café at The National Justice Museum and opened another café, offering even more people the opportunity to get into work!

The two cafes now work alongside each other, and members can train, learn and develop their skills feeding the stations courageous and honourable employees and once they have completed their training, they then begin ‘finishing school’ at the museum café.

Once members are ready and comfortable to move on, Pulp Friction helps them to find paid employment.

Jill and Jessie have done an exceptional job at growing Pulp Friction to where it is now and both, as well as all its members, are greatly inspiring and are proving that those with learning disabilities can work anywhere successfully – all it takes is drive and determination.

Pulp Friction are now looking for additional spaces so they can expand even further and offer more people this great opportunity.

Contact Pulp Friction for more details on pulpfrictionsmoothiebarproject@yahoo.co.uk