A café for the community – From cuppas & chats, to cooking buddies & clubs

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

One of the joys of being part of the team that is Torbay Community Development Trust is working alongside some truly visionary people.

It is easy to view the many issues that we come across in our daily lives as problems, but it is much better when we take a step back and work not on the problem, but on the solution.

A few months ago with the help of several other organisations across the bay TCDT was commissioned by Ageing Well to lead a new scheme called Staying Put which seeks to help people to live in the homes that they love for longer.

As we grow older things that we have always taken for granted can become more difficult, and some of the simplest of things can become a real headache – like putting the bins out or taking down the curtains to clean them.

It might be an overgrown path that needs clearing or a myriad of other straightforward DIY tasks that are easy to some, nigh on impossible to others and a walk in the park for the experienced team at Yes! Brixham.

Staying in your own home might just be down to the right advice at the right time delivered by the right people in our case Healthwatch Torbay if it is about health matters or seAp when support and representation is needed for people to have their voices heard.

But what of those that find themselves alone in later life unable to cook, plan a menu or manage the weekly shop. It happens more often than you might imagine – if you have always relied on someone else to do it, and suddenly they aren’t there. It is a problem. A problem with a creative solution.

Step forward the Ellacombe Community Café run by the Ellacombe Community Partnership and is based in Market Street, Torquay serving all members of the Torbay Community, providing a safe space in which people can engage, participate in activities or just pop in for a cuppa and a chat. Something they have been doing very successfully for several years.

The team at the café recognised that some of their regulars were eating out, not just for the company and the freely given shoulder to lean on, but also because they were unable to pull together a cooked meal of their own.

As a result, the café joined with the Staying Put project through Ageing Well Torbay to offer advice and help with healthy eating, shopping, menu planning and online ordering and provides volunteers who can visit people in their own home and cook a meal with them. They also provide help with shopping trips for those who are unable to get out and about by themselves.

Simple but genius. And much needed.

One of the things that makes this project so exciting is that it is being developed according to the need of individuals and the project is constantly growing and finding new ways to help people.

Planned activities for the future include a Friday Luncheon club, with talks and activities based around healthy eating with cooking tips and menu suggestions for those who would like to cook more in their own home.

They are also developing a Community Garden scheme which will allow people to grow and pick their own fruit, herbs and vegetables, and then learn how to cook them in tasty recipes. Launching in April, you can take part, do some planting, chat with friends, pick some fruit to take home or just sit in a garden chair with a cuppa and enjoy the outdoor experience.

The Community cafe also provides monthly bus trips to places of interest and these will be developed in the future to include a food theme, with lunch included, placing cooking at the heart of the activity.

Roll up your sleeves, you won’t need chef whites, but you can get involved, and they are constantly on the lookout for people in the community who need a helping hand, and for those able to give a little of their time to help others by volunteering to assist with the project.

Full training is provided, and all expenses paid. It is a great way to meet new people and explore new avenues, whilst helping others: contact the Community Café at 17 Market Street, either by email ecpartnership2017@hotmail.com or by telephone 07720 094697.

If you want more details about the rest of the Staying Put Project, to help or seek help, call 01803 446022, or email stayingput@torbaycdt.org.uk