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Pub Stuff's Community Stuff project partners with the Gingerbread Community Café

Pub Stuff's Community Stuff Case Study

The Gingerbread Community café in Polmont near Falkirk is the first project born of the award winning Forth Valley Enterprise, a Community Interest Company set up to strengthen local communities and support local causes.

Since opening 21 months ago, the café has become the hub of the local community. “We focus on increasing community cohesion, reducing isolation and improving the employment prospects of young people and also people with mental health problems through our Employability programme” explained Managing Director, Anna Sandland.

As part of the Employability scheme, which mainly benefits those aged between 16-24 with little or no work experience, basic skills training is provided while they work at the café and increase their confidence, together with support with searching for regular employment. The Gingerbread Café has worked with approximately 30 volunteers, trainees and work experience candidates so far.

Parents and carers love the small playroom within the café and local care homes are proactively contacted so that their residents may come along and enjoy socialising in the relaxing environment and enjoy a hot drink and refreshments.

The Gingerbread café also reaches out to local artists who can then display much of their works within the café and another nice touch is the fact that only unsigned music is played in the café.

Anna explained how, as a product of their success, growth also brought its own challenges. “Our client group is now growing quickly which is great news and what we want. We are now launching a cooking course for single dads, a book group and a breastfeeding drop in group are also coming on stream and we were finding that our current set up was becoming too stretched to accommodate our growth. The need to maximise space and offer good quality comfortable seating to all our visitors was becoming a problem and some of the original second hand furniture we’d bought on a limited budget was beginning to show signs of wear”.

Then in Autumn 2014, Anna heard about a new Community support scheme offered by Pub Stuff a leading national contract furniture provider.

Pub Stuff Director Sally Huband said, “We wanted to find a way of offering a well-structured and focussed initiative to support community oriented organisations with the provision of quality, durable, attractive contract pub and cafe furniture to meet their needs when creating meeting points for community support projects. We do this by offering contract furniture grants to directly benefit the social group applying and thereon, their visitors.

Anna contacted us and we were impressed by what the Forth Valley Enterprise was doing with the Gingerbread Café.  A sense of community is vital for many groups today particularly those who feel isolated and lonely where research has shown links from this to poor nutrition and depression. A Café is a great environment for social interaction and also to enjoy well-made quality food and understand how to lead a healthier life by learning about cooking and nutrition.”

After evaluating the application from the Gingerbread café, Pub Stuff awarded a grant comprising one two seater Panther leather pub sofa together with one low chunky coffee table. “ We were absolutely delighted with the furniture,” said Anna, “our visitors having been really enjoying using it since Pub Stuff delivered it to the Café, the time from agreeing the grant to us receiving it happened really fast too – so all in all we are really delighted that we made the application!”.

 

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