Category Archive: Recovery Cafe

  1. Foundations Café – Reflecting on the launch

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    As I reflect on the opening night of Foundations Café on 8th November, there were certainly a range of emotions experienced in what this meant playing a part in supporting the community. The feeling of purpose, meaning and social aspects having been spoken about.

    The pool of volunteers is mainly people who have, and currently experience, a number of challenges and barriers. To hear from those who are struggling with personal issues though pushing themselves to volunteering is truly heart-warming, and the positive aspect of what the café means to their value and worth. These are some of the ‘softer’ elements that are not easily measurable though certainly of significant importance in peoples ongoing recovery journey.   

    I too required a moment prior to opening as dawning on me what had been achieved and where we had reached within such a short space of time; whilst recognising the many hurdles experienced, and grateful to those people and family in supporting me during a particularly challenging period; and to funders believing in the vision, as not possible without their support.

    People have become alive in this short period of 6 weeks- it has been a privilege seeing confidence grow, to see relationships develop, & to feel the passion in a group of people wishing to support the communities of East Ayrshire. I am so proud of what everyone has achieved as a team and to witness that teamwork ethos on the opening night was true testament to all involved.

    The overriding feeling of the first night was one of immense pride, introducing a new approach where members of the community, services and families engaged. It was particularly pleasing that people from marginalised groups being in attendance, as the ethos is about including the excluded, reducing barriers & developing effective pathways. This may be that stepping stone or springboard to engaging with mainstream services where people begin to feel part of the community.

    There were two young people from the local hostel who ‘reluctantly’ came along with a staff member though when leaving they advised of really enjoying the experience. Will see how this develops as recognise the vulnerability of young people and the feeling of community inclusion being a positive factor in their wellbeing.

    There was a man supported along by Hospital Navigators. They were very surprised how well he interacted with the volunteers as low in confidence and self-esteem. The staff commenting that volunteers taking the time to chat and offer support created warmth and positive atmosphere. This is an example of peer support value and a connection that will hopefully see relationships develop; knowing this is a welcoming environment. Feedback received from the staff member: ‘Took a guy along to café. Not only did he get a 3 courser for £2 he was shown compassion & kindness. One volunteer gave him his number for future support, another signposted to local projects. Here was an air of altruism. Very touching.’

    I also received a volunteer application form from a person who advised of being in early recovery though felt the café was something he would benefit greatly from being involved with and supporting his journey. I have no doubt this will be in no small part being inspired by his peers and the feeling of hope.

    It really is quite hard to accurately describe the atmosphere and positivity, as requires seeing it and feeling it to understand and appreciate the uniqueness; where teamwork and camaraderie of 16 volunteers was clear to all, from the welcome, to the ordering, the food, the service, the chat and the general warmth to everyone attending.

    I believe there is a need to understand and appreciate the impact of what this approach offers- not only developing the skills and confidence of the volunteers where their wellbeing and self-worth is growing quickly; to reaching people and families where they have the opportunity engaging in a social setting and feeling included, not presented with barriers. This is also an approach challenging stigma and discrimination where people ‘written off’ offering a valuable contribution. Through these community engagement approaches we must consider the range of interventions that will be preventing future demand on reactive services such as police, courts, hospital, and addictions- therefore promotion and encouragement of resources being aligned to a ‘spend to save agenda’.

    Wherever there’s a recovery café, there’s a safe and supportive hub where people in recovery can re-build their lives with voluntary opportunities and the power of example that change is possible. This will be developed further in the coming weeks by introducing peer support and thematic groups, and social events.   

    This is purely the start and have some way to go in building and sustaining the model, hopeful there will be local buy-in where the approach is recognised as an asset to all community members.

  2. Café Launch

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    Recovery Enterprises Scotland is delighted to announce the launch event of a recovery café on 1st November. We are reaching out to invite all stakeholders along to share in this key development and celebration. An opportunity to share the vision and ethos of the café; providing low cost quality home cooked food and creating a holistic community hub in supporting all members of the community.

    As we make final preparations for the launch we are thrilled with the level of interest and number of people registering to attend; it is truly heartening to hear the café being described by many as bringing much needed asset to the area. We recognise the approach can only be successful with partnership support and an environment where people feel valued by enhancing their quality of life; helping to shape a family inclusive holistic approach! 

    We are so excited where this journey will take us. We are truly committed in achieving our vision and mission, aspiring to reach and engage with all community members. Our immediate focus is embedding the café model within the community, whilst also considering sustainability and opportunities to growing the approach and expanding delivery to other days of the week. 

    Stay tuned for regular updates……………….. 


  3. Recovery Café developments

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    In learning on the Alliance funding award in September we quickly began to share our plans in implementing a recovery café in the coming months and being clear of the need for partner engagement from the outset, and a particular focus of engaging with people in recovery and families affected by addiction in being the initial cohort of potential volunteers. 

    Following a number of networking meetings and sharing with a range of contacts we held an information session on 27th September 2019 within the Howard Centre. 15 people attended including local service providers accompanying prospective volunteers. This session was an opportunity of sharing the August event feedback and hearing what steps the group would like to see. They were particularly keen on service leads and elected members visiting and engaging with group as feeling they are being fobbed off and paid lip service as not seeing any actions developing.

    The initial session provided an overview of the café, background to the recovery café journey within North Ayrshire, and the range of opportunities, roles and achievements. This was also a unique opportunity in shaping and developing the model as being the first of its kind within East Ayrshire, whilst taking learning from previous experiences, particularly considering the ongoing support needs and developments of the volunteer pool. 

    Each person interested in volunteering completed a short application form in order to permit the holding of their data and what they were hoping to achieve from their involvement; being clear this should be a positive volunteering experience, with a commitment to providing a supportive and ongoing developmental environment.

    Over subsequent Friday afternoons, the volunteer induction involved engagement in a range of training activities in supporting skill development, boundaries, self-management, confidence and team building. This has included input from external partners covering Naloxone and Overdose; Suicide Prevention and Awareness; Adult Support and Protection and Child Protection; Catering Skills and Hospitality. 

    During the 5-week training period the volunteers have built up meaningful and respectful relationships with each other; with much satisfaction in witnessing personal and collective development through people starting to thrive and having a sense of belief in change taking place. The group is extremely passionate about supporting their local community, whilst demonstrating recovery is achievable and offering inspiration to their peers; where the café can complement current structures and enhancing pathways of support. 

    We could not be any prouder of the commitment, dedication and motivation demonstrated by all volunteers. It has been a privilege developing a relationship with each of them and playing a part in their journey. The group were asked about a café name where many weird and wonderful suggestions were offered, eventually deciding on Foundations Café. The name truly reflective of what is being created from the ground up, building something together that is a community café for all!      

    In moving towards café implementation, we joined the FareShare scheme in order to support the dignified food provision and assisting us in keeping food prices at a low cost, reducing barriers to engagement. We have also been encouraging partners to provide an assertive outreach approach through engaging within the café where customers presenting with multiple needs will have easier access to support; having a safe and supportive place to go, that’s free of shame and stigma!