New research on loneliness in the UK has found that up to one million more people are chronically lonely now than before the pandemic, according to analysis from Campaign to End Loneliness and the Office of National Statistics. This brings the total number of people who say they ‘often’ or ‘always’ feel lonely from 2.6 million people in 2020 to 3.3 million people as of February 2022.
Organisations such as Threshold Church are rallying together to find a way to help combat this national issue. In response to the need of warm spaces to socialise, Threshold Community Café was launched last July, and has hosted 9 events so far, taking place on the second Sunday of the month at Welton Village Hall from 10am-12noon.
“The idea for the café came about as we wanted to create a friendly space to meet people and serve our local village community.” Says team coordinator Liz Brown. “At this time after the Covid pandemic where a lot of people are feeling isolated, along with the cost-of-living crisis, we hope to provide a welcoming space where people can chat, play, create and have a bit of fun. There’s something for everyone of any age, and everyone is welcome.”
Everything is free and they ask for donations only, all of which go to a different local charity each month. They have helped support groups such as Welton Community Larder, Dunholme Pre-School, Safe Families and the Ukraine Appeal.
“It is run by a team in church, but it’s open to absolutely everyone. We just want to create a space that everyone can use.” Liz explains, “It’s so nice to meet so much of the community and get to know people by making those relationships and friendships. There is so much doom and gloom around in the news at the moment and everyone is pinched for pennies, so it’s just a small gesture really.”
Each event has a different theme according to the time of year and previous themes have included a Wimbledon Café, Beach Café, Autumn Café and a Valentine’s Café. There are also plenty of cakes and sweet treats to indulge in at each event, a picture quiz, board and table games, crafts for children and Sunday papers to read. They also often give away free items at their events; in the New Year they provided a free book table, and at Christmas gave away 17 Christmas trees, both artificial and real.
The team is made up of 13-15 volunteers who help set up and run the café each month, all from Threshold Church. Each team member is essential to running the café smoothly, whether that be through decorating, baking, leading crafts, washing up or clearing tables.
The events continue to be successful, welcoming up to 100 people through the doors most months. Visitors arrive from both Welton and the surrounding villages, and it seems to be a place of choice for many to meet up with friends. Plenty return each month, some staying for the whole 2 hours while others pop in for a shorter time.
There has been an increase in demand for spaces such as these over the last few years, and events such as this Community Café have become the backbone of supporting local residents through difficult times. We often hear about how community spirit doesn’t exist like it used to anymore, but places such as this prove that if you look hard enough, you will find it is still thriving all around us.
If you would like to know more about Threshold Church or the café, you can visit www.thresholdchurch.co.uk