Our History

Outside the Box would not exist had it not been for the support of our local community and the work of the Oasis Café. For 10 years, a local church based group, Churches Together Ilkley (CTI2000) successfully ran the Oasis café, supporting adults with a learning disability to participate in training and work experience. In late 2011, the café found that it would have to close due to the loss of its premises in Ilkley.


January 2012

CTI2000 and members of the local community hold a public meeting about the Oasis. There is lots of support for the idea of a ‘new Oasis’ and the first pledges of support are made.

February 2012

A Steering Group, made up of a small group of people from the local community and members of CTI2000, starts planning the new venture. The vision for the new café is developed and local fundraising gets underway.

March 2012 onwards

Lots of fundraising by very many local people, organisations and businesses – marathons are run, book, cake and jumble sales held, concerts performed, pop up restaurants, quiz nights and silent auctions take place, grants are won and generous donations made ...plus much more. Our local community makes it happen and we raise over our target of £100,000.

October 2012

Ilkley Community Enterprise Ltd is formed by community volunteers to run Outside the Box. The charity signs a lease on the café premises on Bridge Lane. We hold a community event to ask local people what they want from the café – they tell us with graffiti on the walls, posters, art works and lots of chatting.

November/December 2012

Building work starts on the premises – from car showroom to community café – a big job! We have a community Christmas ‘do’ on site, complete with mulled wine, minced pies and local choir – 100s of people attend. Local volunteers donate project management, interior design, branding and marketing skills and expertise to the project.

April 2013

The builders finish and we move into our lovely premises. We open weekends, wholly staffed with volunteers; we find our feet, introduce members and gradually develop our customer base.

June 2013

Outside the Box launches with Ilkley’s first Big Lunch at the café – it is a beautiful day; over 250 people come! Click here to view

August/September 2013

We recruit our first staff and the café opens 6 days a week. Our team of members and volunteers grows rapidly, community groups begin using the premises and many customers become regulars.

October 2013 onwards

Outside the Box goes from strength to strength, becoming a recognised local asset to the whole community. We hold our first community juicing day and bread-making workshops, introduce our Veg-Ex scheme, run activities for children and young people with a learning disability, members achieve qualifications, volunteers are trained, our first year of trading is a good one and our special ingredient scones gain a large local following!

September 2014

Outside the Box Art House is established to provide people with a learning disability with opportunities to express their creativity and take part in a wide range of arts activities. Click here for more