Contact Details

Alison Ling

Contact Tel:
01206 366059
Contact Email:
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Key Services

Areas covered







The Dacon Trust established the Level Best Art Café (Colchester) in 2008 and The Oasis Café (Manningtree) in 2013. They provide adults and transition age pupils with learning disabilities an opportunity to gain purposeful work experience and training within a town centre environment.

The training takes place within four social enterprise projects:

  1. Dacon Bake (provided at Level Best Art Café and The Oasis Café) - Trainees are involved in all aspects of the running of the Café including food preparation (hot lunches, cakes, sandwiches, buffets, fresh bread), health and safety (working towards a food hygiene certificate, completing healthy eating course), customer service, money management (till operation, cashing up and accounting), menu planning, food shopping and sandwich delivery (to local businesses).
  2. ArtCo (at Level Best Art Café) – ArtCo trainees are supported to learn and utilise various art techniques, take part in local exhibitions and projects, design and produce greetings cards, design, produce and promote our “Leveller” magazine and are involved in the running of our art gallery. They are supported to produce promotional material for art exhibitions using various computer programmes and photograph and write blog entries about the exhibitions.
  3. Seasonal (at Level Best Art Café) – Trainees are supported to make and sell jams, marmalades, chutneys, fruit cordials and various seasonal gifts for special occasions. They are involved in all aspects of producing and selling these items including designing labels for food items, calculating cost of materials and setting selling price, marketing the produce (e.g. designing leaflets, posters and updating Facebook, twitter and our blog with promotional news and updates), putting together a display for the produce and updating our online shop.
  4. Horticulture (sessions meet and drop off from Level Best Art Café) – We have our own allotment where we support trainees to grow produce and flowers which we use and sell in our Cafés. Trainees are involved in harvesting, composting, planting, health and safety, weeding and planning crops. We work with park rangers in Castle Park in a variety of activities including vegetation clearance, plot preparation, care of tools, mulching, care of wildlife, litter clearance and weeding. Our horticulture trainees also participate in planning and putting together our annual display for the Colchester in Bloom competition.

Within all four projects the basis of the training is around the acquisition of work skills.

Our service is aimed at people with learning disabilities age 15+ who wish to work towards gaining employment and/or enhancing their skills within our project areas (cooking, art and horticulture).

A large proportion of our customer base are trainees that have just finished full time education and who access our service to run in conjunction with college courses as well as people looking for alternatives to day centres.

We accept trainees who are assessed to be safe to work in a commercial environment regardless of ability and needs including people who have been described as having challenging behaviour. We can accept trainees with higher support needs but they will need to be supported by their own personal assistant.

Categories of SEND

Cognition and learning, Communication and Interaction.

Age group

Post 16, Transition to adult services.


Community & Voluntary Sector Service, Education Service, Health and/or Social Care Service .

Referral Process

Our work skills training is available to adults and transition age pupils with learning disabilities. Our trainees are referred to us through a number of routes including schools, colleges, Essex County Council (SPT), parents, carers and personal reccomendation.