Coffee with sympathy is a talking point

Published on: Wednesday, 13th March 2019

People calling into a a Long Eaton coffee house on a Tuesday morning have been advised to expect a lot more than coffee and a snack.

A community help drop-in centre will be staged at the Infusion Coffee House in the town where anyone feeling lonely, vulnerable or stressed can make friends or talk about their problems with someone who will listen sympathetically and offer support.

The 'Time To Talk' initative from 10am to 12noon was launched a little over a year ago by volunteers from the nearby Oasis Christian Centre, which provides the premises on Derby Road.

“I started the project to share the love and compassion we have as Christians for the people in our community who feel isolated and unloved,” explained Time to Talk leader Jonathan Gulbe-Mitchell.

“The aim has been to create a safe place for people to come and talk and be listened to in a non-judgemental manner.  Somewhere they can come when they are struggling to cope and feel they have no one to turn to for help.  Our volunteers are also able to refer them to other services that may be able to help with any of their issues.”

Since opening, there have been more than 700 visits to Time to Talk. In a few cases these have been due to referrals by a doctor’s surgery, support workers from various agencies, including Rethink Mental Illness, Derbyshire Recovery and Peer Support Service, as well as Derbyshire County Council social workers.

For some visiting the coffee house can be the highlight of their week. “Time to Talk offers people who have been feeling isolated and depressed a chance to get out of the house,” said 49 year-old Jonathan. “It provides them with the opportunity to make friends and share problems, as well as enjoying a free coffee and a snack.”

Here’s what one customer who visited the Infusion Coffee House last year had to say about the service: “Time to Talk is an amazing group with an amazing team of volunteers, who are willing to talk or even just listen to you and offer advice and support to anyone.  I really recommend going and meeting the team for a cuppa and a slice of toast with that all important time to talk.”

This week saw the reopening of Infusion, following a substantial refurbishment.  The church’s volunteers are all delighted with the new spacious, stylish environment that boasts a pleasant, hospitable ambience, and have no doubt that it will result in an increase in clientele.

The official opening ceremony of the renovated coffee house was performed on Tuesday March 12, by councillor Garry Hickton, who was instrumental in securing a generous grant of £6795 from Derbyshire Country Council for the work.

“Having lobbied Derbyshire County Council I was delighted to have secured funding for Time to Talk,” said Cllr Hickton. “I am most impressed by what it is achieving. This is an extremely simple and effective project providing practical help to those in the community struggling with problems of isolation, anxiety and insecurity, or who simply need to talk to someone who will listen and not judge.”

In addition to the Time to Talk sessions, the café is being used on Wednesdays by a senior citizens luncheon club, and on Thursday evenings by a youth group.  The Oasis Christian Centre anticipates running more groups and events here for the benefit of the local community in the future.

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