Inspirational Stories

Update from Mark

‘Just reflecting over the last few weeks. Being involved within a group of individuals that are all working together to make a difference in our community is so uplifting and inspiring. Seeing families, friends and individuals joining us each Friday at the Foundations Cafe is so fulfilling.


All the volunteers would like to express a massive thank you to all within our community for supporting us and visiting each week, for some food, a chat, or just to be surrounded by others in a safe environment with a fun atmosphere. Our numbers are increasing each week and we are delighted to see new faces as well as our regulars. Thank you to all, your support is greatly appreciated.’


Feedback from Jane, sister of café volunteer

‘Dominic has been involved with the recovery cafe for some time now and it’s given him a new lease of life and a purpose. He slipped further in to a dependence on drink and drugs following the death of our Mum, then the break-up of his marriage and the death of our Dad. When all of this happened, I personally felt a huge responsibility to keep everything together which was a struggle as i was in Manchester and my own daughter had been diagnosed with cancer. 

Our brother is severely brain damaged and my parents’ house needed to be sold and there was no responsible person to share the burden because i felt i couldn’t fully depend on Dominic. Often, Dominic seemed to not be engaged in conversations or even part of the group whether that was with friends or even family.

In about October last year, i started to notice a change in Dominic. He seemed to be regaining his confidence. He was mentioning the cafe and how he was helping out there. The more we talked, the more he told me about how he was working there and he was getting an enthusiasm and spark back. I felt like i was talking to the old Dominic and it made me feel that i could start depending on him again.

When he talks now, he talks about going to work and he has a sense of purpose and responsibility. This was really evident over the festive period. It could have been a tough time but for him (as it was our first Christmas without our parents) but instead, he went to the cafe and helped out on Christmas day and boxing day. This took him out of situations that may have involved alcohol and put him in a much more positive place.

I can’t thank Mark and everyone at the cafe enough for helping to bring Dominic back to his old self. The loss of self-worth, motivation and purpose can really destroy

a person and I feel that the cafe has been instrumental in restoring that for my brother. I felt proud to see him at the cafe. The atmosphere was so welcoming and we attend as much as possible with our whole family. My children (Dominic’s niece and nephew are also proud of their uncle and loved seeing him in action).

What Mark and the team have built is phenomenal. It is a wonderful addition to the community and an invaluable resource for Kilmarnock.’


Volunteer 10

‘I have been offered a full-time job; I haven’t worked for 13 years. Being involved with the café has given me so much confidence back and recognising my skills, which has been a major factor in believing I can take the next step forward. I hope there will always be a place for me.’


Volunteer 9

 Since joining the Foundation Café, it has helped me in so many ways in my recovery and in my personal life. It has given me a renewed sense of purpose working within a great team of volunteers, and meeting so many new people. I feel more focused, motivated, and ready to set more goals. It has been a confidence builder, and has helped turn my stressors into a healthy stress that has motivated me to move forward with my life. I still have a way to go, though I stand feeling happier than I have been in a long while with new hope for the future. Thank you, Mark, and to all the volunteers that have made this possible…  keep on, keeping on. I’m proud to be a part of the growing Foundation Café. David.’


Volunteer 8

‘Just love the café, it has got me back into society and it’s building my confidence again; I love working with the customers.’


Volunteer 7

‘As a single mother in recovery I was lost at times, I had no purpose other than trying my best to be a mother. I was introduced to the cafe and Mark got us training to start with on a Friday, I looked forward to it. 

Now months into the cafe opening I can be Nicola, not just a mum, be around beautiful volunteers and people to serve a purpose, help Kilmarnock community, serve meals on a Friday night for 2 pounds, and bring my assets that I now know I’ve got, thanks to the work being put in. Thanks to Mark and the volunteers for this opportunity, I will be forever grateful, Nicola.


Volunteer 6

‘Back in October 2019 life for me was pretty manic. I felt like I was on a rollercoaster. I had no structure; no routine and my mood were all over the place. I was a girl I didn’t recognise. My pathway in life was blurred and my vision to where I wanted my life to be was hidden. A few things in my life were definitely missing and I needed change. 

I was introduced to the Foundations Cafe by a woman called Julie. To her I will be forever grateful. That day my life changed for the better. The cafe has helped guide me towards who I want to become while helping others in need. After being introduced to individuals with similar outlooks on life.  As a team rising above ‘labels’ like: “the addict, or for me, the girl with a mental illness” 

I realised then, the other volunteers within the cafe wanted to help others at the same time as helping themselves to. Fast forward to now. I am in such a different place within my life. I am happy. I have peace of mind today, I feel content. I now have routine back in my life and a purpose. I look forward to spending a Friday with amazing people who combined are making a small change in our community of Kilmarnock by providing healthy meals for as little as two pounds. Thank you, Mark, and to each volunteer for making this journey something amazing. I can’t wait for what’s to come.’


Volunteer 5

 ‘I feel the cafe provides something tangible and purposeful that council and NHS services cannot. Helping people to get clean is great, but then what?! Without something constructive and meaningful to participate in, you can slide back down the hill rather quickly. Empty time and idle hands are, for me at least, the enemy. Associating with other people actively pushing to improve their lot is something that is inspiring and can give those following behind hope that they can do the same. Learning new skills is a huge positive and being seen to be adding something valuable to the community gives a feeling of hope, pride and self-respect that has not been there for a long time’.


Volunteer 4

 ‘The cafe creates an informal setting that allows people to relax and speak candidly with less fear of judgement as they can speak to people with similar experiences to themselves. I feel this has reduced isolation and helped to occupy my time. I feel this is an often-overlooked issue. Finding something meaningful to fill the time/vacuum can really make the difference’.

Volunteer 3

‘I would have two choices on a Friday- sit at home dwelling on taking the shit to escape that’s taken 4 close friends’ life’s in the time I’ve been involved in the café or chasing recovery in North and South Ayrshire. Thankfully my Friday’s are now spent positively in East Ayrshire recovery café. I feel part of my community. I’ve also made friends, which I struggle achieving outside the café. The training has helped me feel very able and boosted my self-esteem tenfold. I’ve learned I am likable with a caring personality; the customers like these qualities, I’ve never liked me so why would they?! The café offers me great hope and to be a part of its foundations make me feel like an asset to my community instead of a burden, which I have always felt! The café offers me recovery that services don’t. I’ve felt alone finding stuff for my recovery. The Foundations Café offers me the chance to be part of others recovery and supporting them by using my experience’.

Volunteer 2

‘I had to go to another area to further my recovery. I volunteered in their recovery café, and now in full-time employment. When hearing there was to be a recovery cafe in East Ayrshire, I was so excited as my family and friends needed support for their recovery. We all have hope for our futures, giving back to our community. Older folk, parents, professionals, kids, homeless guys, church folk are so supportive. All coming and enjoying the positive experience of good food and company’.

Volunteer 1

‘The cafe has been an absolute life saver in a way that I could never
possibly imagined. I went in there with an unsure attitude. Everyone couldn't be
kinder despite their difficulties. It's an absolute honour and privilege being part of the
team. It now gives me a reason to get out my bed on a Friday. I’ve been given this
amazing opportunity and have loved every single second of it. I was completely lost
and honestly has meant so much, not just to me, but my support team of GP and
Community Psychiatric Nurse, and my family, who have noticed my hunger for life
again. I've met the most wonderful people like myself. Our boss’s passion has been
passed on to each and every one of us who work amazing together. I have a
purpose and a light at the end of the tunnel. I never believed 8 weeks ago I would be
where I am now. I have made friendships for life. I've made a difference to the most
vulnerable people, something which I never thought possible’.