Befriending scheme to launch following success of community cafe

Joel Connor-Saunders, supported volunteer for Access Community Trust, recieves a cheque from members

Joel Connor-Saunders, supported volunteer for Access Community Trust, recieves a cheque from members of Lowestoft Rotary Club, along with other representatives. Picture: Nick Butcher. - Credit: Nick Butcher

A befriending scheme is set to be launched following the success of a village coffee shop which works to reduce social isolation.

Back in October, Lowestoft-based Sams Coffee Shop, which is part of Access Community Trust, opened the new coffee shop at Marram Green in Kessingland, and five months on the team are looking to further develop the service they office and extend opening hours to include Sundays.

The café, which provides coffee, light snacks and meals to the general public and to residents of Marram Green, has now been awarded £1,000 from Lowestoft Rotary Club to support the opening of a befriending scheme.

Antony Parke, customer and commercial projects manager, said: 'The opening of Sams at Marram Green has already been a tremendous success. Both residents and the general public have formed new friendships and they have really benefitted from the reduction in social isolation.

'Individuals who would have sat in their home alone with a microwave meal can now benefit from a hot meal and have the chance to talk with new found friends whilst they eat.

'The money kindly donated to us will allow us to further the support we can offer to those who are amongst the most vulnerable in our communities through a befriending scheme.'

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Reducing social isolation is one of the key objectives of Access Community Trust, and Joel Connor-Saunders, supported volunteer co-ordinator, said they looking for volunteers to support the new scheme.

He said: 'The local community has a real opportunity to be part of something really special. Many people will think that volunteering isn't possible for them but everyone can help with this scheme from the parent with pre-school children through to those who may be disabled or just be a bit lonely themselves. What matters is that we bring people together over a lovely cup of tea or coffee and put a smile on people's faces.'

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Jo McCullum of the East Suffolk Communities Team at Waveney District Council, added: 'We are pleased to support Access Community Trust as they roll out the befriending project at Marram Green. This will compliment other initiatives that we are working in partnership with along with the parish council to focus on identifying and resolving the hidden needs of individuals in the community.'

For an informal conversation on volunteering, call 01502 527200.

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