A BAKE Off contestant is part of a team that has opened a cafe with a difference at Taunton's Brewhouse Theatre.

Steve Jones, who reached the last 16 of the popular contest but just missed out on the TV stage, is running Freddy Sunshine's alongside Mark Blaker and Ruth Irvine.

Their aim is to provide excellent food and create work opportunities for adults with learning difficulties.

Steve is former head of learning disability services at Somerset County Council; Mark is a parent carer and director of a disability support day service; and Ruth has years of experience working in local cafes.

Mark said: "We're very excited to have the opportunity to operate from the Brewhouse.

"It's a dynamic, creative venue that will provide a supportive environment for us to deliver an excellent, distinctive menu and address a great social problem at the same time.

"Between 85 per cent and 90 per cent of adults with learning disabilities are unable to gain paid employment, while surveys show the vast majority want to be in work.

"It's a fundamental human need to play a productive part in your community. It adds to your sense of self respect and dignity.

"People make so many assumptions about what people can and can't do, but our experience is there's massive potential out there.

"We're about giving people the opportunities they want, whether they're customers or employees, and the Brewhouse is the perfect venue to start this journey."

Freddy Sunshine's will open during the daytime, offering a range of light meals, snacks and beverages in the run up to Christmas.

Training and employment opportunities will be phased in from January.

Speaking after Monday's opening, Mark said: "It was quiet, but good. We learned a lot and really enjoy being in that environment.

"A lot of interest has already been shown in the vacancies. We'll have people coming in one or two days a week.

"There will be maybe six or eight staff, mostly people with learning difficulties."

Freddy Sunshine's was set up after the previous operator terminated its contract.