Coastal café launches to tackle social isolation after lockdown
- Credit: Kinsey Foster
A new café has opened its doors in a bid to tackle social isolation in a coastal town.
Woodworks Art Cafe has launched the first social prescribing café in Lowestoft, aiming to connect people with non-medical support to improve wellbeing, such as support groups and dedicated art and craft classes for all ages from birth.
The opening sees the former Woodworks Restaurant and Bar site, on Commercial Road, brought back into use following the eatery's closure in 2019.
Founder and owner Kinsey Foster said: "I have grown up helping others and been in a helping profession, but I also love art and crafts and anything creative, and who doesn't love a cuppa and some natter?
"So I figured why not combine my loves into one, and Woodworks was born."
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The café officially opened on March 24, with social prescribers allowed to run groups during lockdown with support from mental health services and GP's, who refer service users to the café.
Ms Foster said: "You don't have to have a diagnosis of a particular mental health condition, as they work on prevention on a large scale by offering a supportive environment for those struggling, particularly with isolation as a result of Covid-19, and we are able to offer emotional and practical support where required.
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"People can self-refer and attendance is usually by appointment only due to the limited numbers allowed inside in accordance with Covid-19 regulations."
From May 2021, the café's services will extend further to include seated exercises for over 50s and anyone with physical limitations who may benefit from the positive effect exercise has on their physical and mental health.
The centre can also be used for supervised contact sessions between parents and children who are separated and are not supported by social services on Sundays, or after normal public opening hours by pre-booking.
Backed by a £5,000 grant from East Suffolk Council and councillor Janet Craig to start the café, the community interest company behind the scenes relies on donations and grants, as well as the help of volunteers.
Anyone looking to volunteer, or for more information and referral forms, email firstname.lastname@example.org.