'Trauma cafe' taking shape in former high street electrical shop

Gorleston High Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Hughes in Gorleston High Street is being remodelled as the Steam House Cafe. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2019

A charity with a focus on mental health and well-being is transforming a former electrical shop into its first "trauma cafe".

Lowestoft-based Access Community Trust aims to open in busy Gorleston high street at the end of June helping to make access to mental health advice and services  as easy popping to the shops and grabbing your groceries.

The project is being funded by Norfolk and Waveney CCG and follows the success of a similar cafe, Sams in Bevan Street, Lowestoft, and the cafe at Great Yarmouth's Venetian Waterways which it runs as a social enterprise.

The charity said it had seen a dramatic increase in people seeking advice and support during the pandemic and was responding to demand.

Steam House Cafe in Gorleston High Street

The former Hughes electrical shop in Gorleston has been stripped ahead of its new role as a cafe offering advice and support for people with a range of difficulties including with their mental health. - Credit: Access Community Trust

The premises in the former Hughes shop has been stripped back to offer a café at the front, a group therapy suite at its centre, and some private consultation rooms.

The service is also bringin 10 new jobs to the high street.

A second premises is taking shape in King's Lynn with the aim of opening in September.

The cafe will be called Steam House Cafe, the initials standing for support, transform, eat, aspire and motivate.

Steam House Cafe Gorleston High Street

Access Community Trust is transforming the ex Hughes shop in Gorleston High Street into a community cafe. It is due to open at the end of June 2021. - Credit: Access Community Trust

Emma Ratzer, charity chief executive, said: "We are delighted to be opening our very first of a range of mental health focused Steam House Cafés in Gorleston.

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"We purposely chose a highly visible town centre premises because it is easily accessible to those seeking support and guidance.

"Mental health is no longer a taboo subject and everybody should feel comfortable talking about it.

"By taking that important message directly to the high street and supporting the local community with a range of trauma based support and drop in therapies, we have made it easier for people to ask for advice or assistance in a relaxed environment, accompanied by a coffee and bite to eat."

Steam House Cafe Gorleston High Street

A charity has seen a spike in demand for its services during the pandemic and is responding by opening two community cafes in Gorleston and Kings Lynn. The Steam House Cafe concept builds on what the charity has already achieved, and adds a trauma dimension. - Credit: Access Community Trust

The charity was set up 46 years ago providing Lowestoft with its first homeless shelter.

It now offers a range of services provided by a team of more than 160 people, including supported accommodation for over 200 people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Emma Ratzer, at the grand reopening of the Venetian Waterways and Boating Lake, Great Yarmouth. Pict

Emma Ratzer, at the grand reopening of the Venetian Waterways and Boating Lake, Great Yarmouth. Picture: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

The cafe will likely be open to the general public between 11am and 3pm. 

To find out more, people can email steamgy@accessct.org or call/message 07435 993407.