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The Addlestone 'Community Cafe' striving to tackle loneliness

The Addlestone 'Community Cafe' striving to tackle loneliness

Published by the Eagle Radio News Team at 5:00am 23rd April 2019. (Updated at 4:33pm 23rd April 2019)

A new cafe in Addlestone, run by people with learning disabilities, is striving to bring the local area together.

The aptly named 'Community Cafe' opened last Tuesday (April 16) offering a variation of hot drinks and snacks to the public.

But unlike most coffee vendors, this set up's number one goal isn't profit.

Based at the Addlestone Community Centre along Garfield Road, the Community Cafe plans to combat loneliness in Addlestone and become a social hub.

"There's a number of sheltered housing developments within a mile of this place with quite a number of people who are all living on their own" June Tilbury told Eagle. She is the secretary for Addlestone Community Association (ACA), which owns and maintains the centre.

"They don't have anywhere to come to, they wouldn't walk into a big cafe on their own. But they can use the centre for activities and they come here first for a coffee to meet a friend or somebody new.

"It's very easy to talk to new people in these surroundings, I think this will really help people who are living on their own and probably don't talk to anybody from one end of the day to the next."


The cafe, which is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10am and 4pm, is being run by people with learning disabilities from specialist support provider, County Care.

They make the hot drinks and even bake homemade cakes for as little as 40 pence.

Harriet is one of the volunteers: "I serve customers here, I ask them what they want like a tea or a coffee. I enjoy it.

"I'm hoping to get experience out of it and it's going to provide me with opportunities.

"It will help me a lot and I might even get a job out of it, I'm not saying that will happen but that would be nice!"

Harriet and Mickey are part of the team running the Community Cafe

The ACA was formed in 1948 and is a registered charity, meanwhile the original community centre was opened in 1968.

It was replaced in September 2005 and has been developing ever since, now with air conditioning in every room, LED lighting and a main hall equipped with professional sound and lighting systems.

Ian Lee was elected as chairman last year following 20 years of work with Surrey Youth and Community Service.

He is now pushing to make the centre a pillar of the community and in the past six months alone it has seen a 25% increase in use.

"I want this to be a proper centre for the community" Ian said.

"We're getting there, but we've still got a long way to go.

"There's a desperate need to fill the gap created by the cuts in government spending on community provision and youth provision."

Ian Lee
ACA Chairman, Ian Lee

The centre also rents out rooms to generate income in order to offer community facilities at affordable rates.

From badminton and yoga to ballroom dancing and camera club, there is a plethora of activities now taking place there.

"The community is about being together, not a bit over here and something over there, we are part of the community." Ian added.

"There is equality, nobody has any specific rights to anything so lets open the doors and say to everybody come into your centre, but obviously you have to invite them in with something."

Speaking on the benefits the cafe will have to those running it, Ian said: "It will give them some self confidence and practical experience in being out in the big wide world which might then give them the opportunity to work.

"We're giving quite a few people with learning difficulties a learning opportunity in a commercial enterprise.

"It's about us providing a facility for the benefit of people, whether they are lonely, elderly, or have learning disabilities.

"We just want everybody to be happy and part of the community."

More information about the centre and activities available can be found on the Addlestone Community Association website.

Addlestone Community Cafe


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