A POOLE charity is to open a ‘safe space’ café in the High Street for people struggling on low incomes.
Poole Waste Not Want Not is using a £5,000 grant from Dorset Community Foundation’s Living Legacy Fund towards the cost of revamping its social supermarket to include the café. It has already built a kitchen for the project.
The fund, which is supported by BCP Council and the Talbot Village Trust, was set up to improve health and wellbeing in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area by funding services and activities that help people support each another, provide healthy social activities, support personal aspirations and skills and promote volunteering opportunities.
The Paul Cornes Fund, which was set up with the community foundation in memory of businessman Paul Cornes, is also supporting the fund.
Poole Waste Not Want Not project manager Erika Sloper said the café idea has come in response to members, who pay a small weekly fee to buy items that are donated by supermarkets and food producers.
“We put feedback forms out about what was missing and quite a few people said they would love to come and just sit for a natter,” said Mrs Sloper. “But they can’t afford to go to a coffee shop because they don’t even have enough money to buy food.
“There are so many people out there who live on their own who don’t get to talk to anyone and they are telling us that we are the only people they speak to in the day and it is lovely that if they have problems they can come and discuss them with us.”
There are so many people out there who live on their own who don’t get to talk to anyone
The café, due to be open by January, will be supporting by local organisations, including Citizens Advice. “They’ll be coming in so that people can have an informal chat to make them feel at ease before they go to a more formal meeting at their offices,” said Mrs Sloper.
The charity has more than 1,200 members, with at least 75 living alone. Mrs Sloper said: “We get mums with children who have been placed in safe houses because they have been abused and they are isolated.
“They get a free food voucher and come in and from that we get to know them and then they keep coming back as members. I’ve been told by quite a few of them that they feel like it is my little family and they can come in and ask anything. Sometimes they just come in to keep warm because it is so cold out there. They just like to come in and get a smile and be asked how they are.”
She also wants to help members make the most of the ingredients on offer through cookery sessions. “Many of the families have not tried or tasted half of the products we get given so the idea is to show them some recipes and give them the tools to go home and maybe make it themselves,”she said.
“It’s about making it fun but educational so that they are learning without realising it. That then follows on to the children getting involved with cooking and that then sparks the interest in them to carry on cooking.”
Dorset Community Foundation director Grant Robson said: “We are very thankful for the support we’ve had for this fund from BCP Council and the Talbot Village Trust and we are delighted to see brilliant groups like Poole Waste Not Want Not using the grant to reach out and change the lives of the people in their community for the better.
“This café will be a wonderful asset for Poole and a place with a real sense of community support. We’re looking forward to seeing it up and running.”