New community cafe proving big hit

November 02 2018
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A NEW community cafe set up to tackle loneliness and isolation is already proving a huge hit.

The cafe is the brainchild of Gillian Flower, known for her work in setting up Bristol Community Friendship Club.

It opens once a week at Barton Hill Rugby Club in Duncombe Lane, Speedwell, attracting people of all ages, from young mums to the elderly.

As well as being able to grab a hot drink or a sandwich, guests can take apart in activities such as arts and crafts and knitting.

There is also a raffle and a 'bargain table', where people can snap up items, including jewellery, for just 50p.

Gillian, who lives in St George, said: "Loneliness amongst our communities is growing and we aim to enable people to have somewhere to come and feel welcomed and valued."

Gillian is helped by her daughter, Michelle Ford, and volunteers who meet and greet, serve food and drinks and lead activities.

The cafe officially opened on Monday October 15. Around 70 people came along, including Hillfields councillor Anna Keen, who wanted to lend her support.

Gillian set up her first community cafe at Longwell Green Community Centre on September 26. In its first week the cafe had 80 visitors, rising to an incredible 150 by its fourth week.

Gillian started Bristol Community Friendship Club in 2016, having been touched by a TV show about loneliness. Its Facebook group now has more than 800 members.

Gillian said the cafes were part of the wider friendship club as they have the same objectives - enabling people to meet new friends and ending loneliness.

"We run a very affordable not-for-profit cafe, as well as activities such as art and crafts, and knit and natters.

"All of this is done in an attempt to achieve our goal, to end loneliness in the community. We are all volunteers and the cafes have been hugely successful. We have been told on numerous occasions by people attending how much they look forward to coming and how many of them don't see or talk to anyone all week; a lot are isolated and alone. 

"The cafes are providing them with opportunities to make new friends."

Barton Hill Rugby Club Community Cafe is open every Monday from 11am-3pm. All are welcome.

• The community cafe needs  more volunteers to meet and greet new members, help serve food and run activities. 

You can also donate items for Gillian to sell on her Facebook page (Bristol Community Cafes) to raise money to keep the cafes running.

Anyone who can help should call Gillian on 07948 393397 or email gill.flower@blueyonder.co.uk