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!