volunteer project brings community together with new funding award

A warm welcome, friendship and support is always waiting for visitors at Cafe Together in Easington. Now the project has even more to offer the community, with the help of a £7,000 grant from believe housing, the County Durham-based housing association.

For more than seven years, the team of dedicated volunteers at Cafe Together have been providing low-cost, freshly cooked hot meals for local communities.

During the pandemic, the Cafe Together team cooked and delivered hot meals to people’s homes, along with essential shopping. They are now welcoming the community back through the doors of Easington Colliery Methodist church, with lunches to eat in or takeaway on Thursdays, and a new fun, friendship and support session every Wednesday.

Julie Laidler, project coordinator, explains: ‘The grant from believe housing makes a massive difference to the community, because it means we can keep the project going’.

‘When we started the sit-down lunches again, we recognised that there is a need for more support to get people out and back into the community. Many of them have lost close friends; people who got them out of the house’.

The new Wednesday group offers the opportunity to join in with games and activities which Julie says encourages people to chat about their interests or any challenges they may be facing. Cafe Together are also inviting a range of community groups to attend the sessions, including craft clubs and support groups for people living with long-term health conditions.

The credit union regularly attends Thursday lunches, offering people financial and dept management advice.

believe housing awards annual grants worth £255,000 to help communities and groups fund a variety of projects and initiatives.

Debbie Howe, community investment coordinator at believe housing, said ‘We’re delighted to award the Cafe Together project this funding. They have worked hard to keep people connected through the pandemic and they’re in the perfect position to continue their support in the Easington community.

‘We really appreciate the value of the work that Julie and her team of volunteers do.

Julie Laidler said that applying for the grant was easier than she expected. ‘Although it was quite an in-depth process, believe housing gave very good support and guidance.’

She adds her appreciation of the Cafe Together volunteers and the community for their efforts. Partnership work in Easington is amazing; people do so much’.

For more information on believe housing community grants, call 0300 131199 or email communitygrant@believehousing.co.uk