Food for thought at the Becklin Centre

A new café has opened at the Becklin Centre in Leeds, a unit near St James Hospital which provides services for people suffering complex and acute mental health needs.


The Foodworks Café will offer hearty, healthy and wholesome food alongside training, employment and volunteering opportunities for people with learning disabilities, and those recovering from mental health problems.


The café is run by award-winning social enterprise FoodWorks and headed up by New Zealand chef and former personal trainer Muka Silver. The kitchen will be serving up a delicious menu of fresh healthy food which will support patient recovery by offering balanced nutrition and a relaxing space. Visitors to the café can expect tasty treats such as poached chicken and avocado wraps and dark chocolate zucchini brownies as well as the Becklin Centre’s own blend of coffee.


The opening of the café was marked with an event featuring musicians, art created by Becklin Centre service users, and a large celebration cake made by the Foodworks team.


Café manager Muka Silver said: “I’m passionate about creating healthy and wholesome food which tastes good and makes you feel even better. Coming from a fitness background I understand the difference that nutritious food makes to both the body and mind.


“I used to live in Australia where the healthy fast food market is booming. I want to take inspiration from this and create dishes that people will enjoy that will also help with their recovery. I look forward to working with trainees and volunteers and helping them to develop new skills.”


Jill Copeland, Chief Operating Officer at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust which runs the Becklin Centre said “Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is delighted to have teamed up with Foodworks in opening a new café at the Becklin Centre. The cafe is fantastic joint venture which will not only create a relaxing social hub providing delicious and nutritious food for service users and staff at the Centre but will also offer employment and training opportunities to people with learning disabilities and those recovering from mental health problems.”


This new venture opens following the success of FoodWorks outside catering business and café at Kala Sangam arts centre in Bradford.


FoodWorks business development manager Kerrie-Lee Barr said: “We’re really pleased to be working in partnership with the NHS on this new venture as we think the new café will offer staff and patients something a bit different. FoodWorks is about creating delicious vibrant food, while also offering opportunities to people with disabilities or recovering from illness. Half our staff team have a disability, and we currently offer over 80 day placements to people with disabilities.”


The Becklin Centre provides an inpatient service which consists of a female service and two male wards. The inpatient wards provide services in a therapeutic environment to adults between the ages of 18-65 who are experiencing a mental illness.


The Crisis Assessment Service works out of the Becklin Centre and provides a 24/7 service across the whole of Leeds for adults of all ages. Part of this is the Crisis Assessment Unit that offers a facility for extended assessment for up to 72 hours, this facility has three male and three female rooms and also a Section 136 Suite.


FoodWorks is a catering social enterprise which launched in 2011. It is part Leeds-based Yorkshire Housing, an 18,000 home social landlord. Further information can be found at