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From burnt out to perfectly brewed – the Greater Manchester social enterprise tackling social isolation one cup of coffee at a time

Perfectly timed for Mental Health Awareness Week in 2023, Grounded MCR CIC is launching its crowdfunding campaign, to raise funds for the establishment of a community café in Cringle Park, Levenshulme. 

Grounded MCR CIC is a social enterprise that supports vulnerable adults struggling with their mental health by providing them with training and employment opportunities.  

Grounded MCR operate a customised trike serving locally sourced treats and drinks in parks throughout Manchester. Employees receive barista and hospitality training to help build their confidence and belief in their ability to make positive contributions to society. Through the collaborative efforts of the employer, employee, and community, Grounded MCR is on a mission to help vulnerable adults gain employment and combat social isolation. 

 “It has been proven time and again that working outside can help improve mental health,” said Natalie Lobel, co-founder of Grounded MCR. “We work with each employee, to create a way of working that suits them – and be as flexible as possible to ensure everyone feels comfortable and happy at work. It’s not an easy business model but a flat hierarchy and a lot of empathy makes it work. We encourage our employees to bring their true selves to work, whatever that looks like to them.” 

Grounded MCR was launched in 2021 after founder Natalie suffered severe burn out in her career. Natalie launched Grounded MCR to ensure this didn’t happen to her again.  

Natalie received help to grow the social enterprise, from GC Business Growth Hub EnterprisingYou programme, a fully funded business support programme for sole traders and entrepreneurs in Greater Manchester. Natalie is now launching a Crowdfunder to help grow the business. 

“Without EnterprisingYou, I wouldn’t have launched a crowdfunding campaign. The programme gave me the confidence and the skill set to make it possible,” said Natalie. 

Grounded MCR intend to convert a 40-foot shipping container café into a community pay-as-you-feel café and event space. The container café will feature a barista training area for vulnerable adults, a small allotment and gardening club, and room for sports/activities clubs to meet and support groups to gather.  

“We never really wanted to do a Crowdfunder, but it’s such a difficult time in hospitality, as we all face the cost-of-living crisis. We have found that coffee is starting to be considered a luxury - people are spending a lot less money,” said Natalie.  

“But at the same time, there is solid community support here and locals want an all-year-round café and toilet. We now have a chance to convert a shipping container cafe into a barista training centre, sustainably-focused, Pay as You Feel café and mini allotment to allow us to train more people and support our community.” 

Local creators will also have the chance to exhibit their goods. The renovated space will enable the training of additional vulnerable adults and serve as a central point for community activities. 

Grounded MCR is reaching out to their supporters to provide funding for the renovation project, with the Aviva Community Fund also supporting the campaign by offering live match funding. 

“During such a challenging time, conversation and community activities are all so important to enhance the mental health of everyone in the community,” said Natalie, “and a community café located in the park will definitely become the focal point for us to help.” 

“The Business Growth Hub is so excited about the launch of the crowdfunding campaign by the Grounded MCR CIC,” said Yvonne Sampson, Head of Enterprise for GC Business Growth Hub.  

“We witnessed the growth of Grounded MCR CIC in the EnterprisingYou programme and are amazed to see it go full cycle back to helping those that need it most in their communities.” 



You can find out more about Grounded MCR here:   

Website:  Grounded MCR - Home 

Facebook:  Grounded MCR | Manchester | Facebook 

Crowdfunding Campaign: Donate here

Case Study:  Grounded MCR | Enterprising You ( 



EnterprisingYou is a programme delivered by the Growth Company. Greater Manchester has been chosen to run this programme as a pilot, which could be rolled out throughout the UK. It is commissioned by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. 

More information about the EnterprisingYou programme can be found here. 

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