Community Outreach & Inclusion
Our social inclusion projects focus on building new relationships and connections throughout the community, helping people to develop their support networks and escape from loneliness and isolation.
Our Holistic Approach
Our initial focus was on supported employment, and aiding development of employability skills. However, we soon learnt that these skills form just one part of the picture. We have consistently found that a crucial and often-overlooked barrier to overcome is a lack of confidence and self-belief, together with the effects of societal stigmas towards our beneficiaries. We take a holistic approach, with a range of bespoke programmes to help people with each target area of progression, each one amplifying the effects of the others. These include not just employability and skills projects, but also an array of social inclusion and community outreach programmes.
Upon seeing a sharp rise in foodbank referrals over the Covid pandemic, we further expanded to address issues of food poverty as well. Today, our “Sandy’s Special” project provides hundreds of free meals each year, no questions asked, to anyone who attends our café seeking support, together with hygiene packs, advice, signposting, and referrals. Our #LetsEatTogether events similarly work to provide free meals, but with an added focus on tackling isolation on national holidays such as Christmas Day. Each of these events consists of a themed dinner, entertainment, and fun activities, bringing together isolated people from throughout the community.
Events and Activities
Meet up Mondays
Meet up Mondays are our weekly community chat and friendship sessions, aimed at tackling loneliness and social isolation. These are led and run by our tireless volunteers.
We are aiming to increase the number of these over the next 12 months to spread these essential benefits to a wider range of individuals.
Sandy’s Special: Funded by customer donations, anyone who comes in and asks for our “Sandy’s Special” gets a free meal and drink, no-questions asked. Alongside this we offer additional support and provide referrals and signposting to local organisations that can further help (e.g. food banks), along with packs of non-perishable food and personal hygiene products. This has seen a dramatic surge in uptake recently, due to the cost-of-living crisis.
#LetsEatTogether: On several occasions throughout the year, we host large-scale free community meals, ensuring no-one is forced to spend days of celebration such as Christmas alone.
All food and drinks are provided FREE of charge, thanks to donations from our partners, funding organisations and café customers. We endeavour to ensure that each attendee leaves with a small token to remember their day by.
Above and Beyond Volunteer Awards
This year, we set up a brand-new awards programme in order to recognise the immense generosity and tireless work of volunteers in our community.
Our inaugural awards evening was hosted by Stuart Vant from the local branch of InXpress, one of our many generous supporters.
Plot to Plate
Plot to Plate, in partnership with Dig It and Mencap is teaching individuals with a wide range of barriers and disadvantages, the benefits growing your own produce as well as how to turn it into delicious and nutritious meals. Through specialist support from our staff and volunteers, ergonomic equipment, and disability-friendly allotment design, we make sure this is accessible for all, providing the countless benefits of physical exercise, fresh air, and social inclusion for individuals who may otherwise be at risk of inactivity and isolation.
Themed Social Evenings
Themed Social Evenings: Our fundraising Social Evening events have proved to be extremely popular, with over 80 attendees at each of our ticketed Halloween and Valentines parties. These provide opportunities for socialisation as well as community engagement and of course, really good FUN! Each event helps to raise funds for our community support projects, including our #LetsEatTogether campaign which aims to simultaneously tackle hunger, poverty and social isolation.