Appeal launched to fight for life-saving Community Café’s future

Educafe, recently nominated for a BBC Berkshire Award, asks for help amid local authority cuts

A popular community café in the heart of Newbury which has “saved people’s lives” is at risk of closing unless it receives vital funds.

Educafe started as a weekly community café in 2021 following lockdown, offering a free weekly café and safe space where people could meet, enjoy free refreshments, make friends and support each other. Since then it has exploded into a progressive social movement offering free health and wellbeing activities, English language courses, community navigation, a hub for other local organisations and a growing network of over 300 new and expectant mums who receive free ante and post-natal health and wellbeing support.

Over 30 volunteers run the weekly cafe, currently based at Newbury Library from 11am to 2pm every Wednesday, and they are calling for local businesses, funders and grant-giving organisations to come forward and offer their support to secure its long-term future.

Mums, kids, older people, isolated people often with mental health issues and retirees enjoy using the café along with English learners from a wide range of countries including Ukraine, Hong Kong, Syria, Sudan, Albania and Afghanistan. Over 20 different languages are spoken between them, with longtime Newbury residents sharing local history and culture with newcomers.

Thames Valley Police, Early Years and NHS teams plus the Mayor, Nigel Foot are all regular visitors as Educafe offers a unique opportunity to engage with a real cross-section of the community. Other local organisations such as charities and public health services from across West Berkshire host various free drop-in activities including health checks, baby sensory sessions and chair yoga.

One regular said: “Educafe has literally been a lifesaver for me. I have attempted suicide twice in my life and still feel suicidal from time to time but the camaraderie and teamwork at Educafe helps me feel more positive and gives me some purpose in my life again.”

The challenge

Educafe has become a victim of its own success and now needs to build a team to cope with the running of all activities. Originally funded by West Berkshire Council with an impressive 70% of top-up funding was secured from other sources including a generous donation from GWR, the money will run out in March 2024.

Educafe needs over £50,000 per year to survive, grow and continue to cope with increasing demand. The team have big ambitions for opening more services in the future and it is their dream to have their own venue where people can meet on other weekdays. Educafe hopes that despite challenging times, the resilient community they have created in Newbury will pull through and look after each other.

How you can help

To get involved, donate or reach out please visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/save-our-educafe (with rewards kindly donated by SushiZen in Newbury) or contact on janine@educafeuk.co.uk or 07540 145785.

How donations will make a difference:

  • Your support will keep this vital resource open and free to all that need it
  • With your help, we want to double the number of visitors over the next 3 years
  • We aim to offer new services and initiatives in other areas across West Berkshire that focus on intergenerational community cohesion, health & wellbeing and ante- and post-natal support.

See below for Educafe’s impact story and further quotes:

  • Well over 10,000 visits in the first 2 years of opening
  • Supported by 12,000 volunteering hours – worth an estimated £140,000
  • Over 90% of service users say Educafe has had a positive impact on their quality of life
  • Increasing library footfall
  • Service user quotes include:
    “Wow, what a unique and wonderful experience to see this in a library – it’s unlike anything I’ve seen before”
    “With my husband in the armed forces, Educafe keeps me sane.”
    “Educafe is the highlight of my week”
    “Your wellbeing sessions have given me the motivation to take better care of myself”
    “Educafe has a been a lifesaver. I’ve met other mums and found everybody so helpful.”
    “I feel very comfortable with the volunteers, they are kind and patient and help me practice my English”

 

TESTIMONIALS

“I’m a big fan of meeting people and practicing my English. It’s a privilege for me to visit Educafe”
Abdullah from Sudan

“Educafe has literally been a lifesaver for me. I have attempted suicide twice in my life and still feel suicidal from time to time but the camaraderie and teamwork at Educafe helps me feel more positive and gives me some purpose in my life again.”
Anonymous

“Educafe is much more than a community café. We help people back from the brink of suicide, make everyone feel part of our community, connect key services with the people they serve and offer incredibly purposeful work to our wonderful volunteers. We’re like a big family who take care of each other. If we lose Educafe, Newbury loses its community spirit.”
Julie Seal, Café Manager

“We’re are a true melting pot and represent the full spectrum of our community. There are no barriers here at Educafe. You can drop-in whenever you like, choose which activity to take part in, volunteer with us or just sit and have a cuppa. There’s something for everyone and each person’s different story is what makes Educafe unique. ”
Clare Middleton, Director

“If you haven’t been to Educafe, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s unlike any other community movement I’ve seen and the benefits are tangible when you walk through the door. A warm welcome, lots of chat and laughter and everyone from across the community mingling and enjoying each other’s company. Educafe’s power to connect people cannot be underestimated, particularly in challenging times like these.”
Margaret Neville, Chatty Corner Manager

 

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