Belfast Telegraph

Protesters to besiege Hillsborough Castle over eviction of mental health charity Praxis Care's Secret Garden cafe

By Rebecca Black

A protest is taking place at Hillsborough Castle today in support of a mental health charity which is being evicted from the grounds.

Praxis Care has been running the Secret Garden cafe in the grounds of Hillsborough for almost a decade in an initiative set up by former Secretary of State Mo Mowlam.

However, the charity has been asked by the current administration to leave to make way for Historic Royal Palace's plans to transform the estate into a major visitor attraction.

Praxis has expressed alarm at the move because tit has invested £400,000 in the facilities.

So far the Northern Ireland Office has refused to compensate it for this investment, saying its current budget is too limited.

But there was a breakthrough in the deadlock last week when the NIO indicated that Historic Royal Palaces may be prepared to take on some of the Praxis workers in its new cafe.

Praxis currently employs 16 people at the cafe, many with learning difficulties who have never before had the opportunity of employment.

Supporters of Praxis are planning to gather at the castle gates this morning at 11am calling for the local charity to be allowed to remain.

Protest organiser Neil McNickle said the young people who worked at the cafe needed routine and were highly upset at the threat to close the Secret Garden.

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