Former cafe turned into community hub to tackle loneliness

Pop Up Enterprises CEO Tom Gaskin (middle) with Julie Edmond, Hilary Mellon, Julie Brett and Nicole

Pop Up Enterprises community interest company CEO Tom Gaskin (middle) with Julie Edmond, Hilary Mellon, Julie Brett and Nicole Sears, members of the Bridges Creative Writing Group at the Shoebox Community Hub in Norwich. - Credit: Danielle Booden

A charity café has reopened as a community hub which aims to connect people who are facing loneliness and social isolation.

The former KindaKafe on Castle Meadow in Norwich, which was previously run by the Missing Kind charity, is now being run by Pop Up Enterprises community interest company and has been renamed the Shoebox Community Hub.

Tom Gaskin, chief executive of Pop Up Enterprises, said he hoped to attract more groups of all ages to the hub.

He said: "We know loneliness and social isolation has significant implications. It is important to combat that and create a space where people can support each other.

"We are hoping to have an interesting and varied selection of groups."

Tom Gaskin, CEO of Pop Up Enterprises at The Shoebox Community Hub on Castle Meadow in Norwich. Pict

Tom Gaskin, CEO of Pop Up Enterprises community interest company at the Shoebox Community Hub on Castle Meadow in Norwich.  - Credit: Danielle Booden

Pop-Up Enterprises has supported the Missing Kind for the past few years.

And after receiving funding from Better Together Norfolk, the community interest took on the lease from the Missing Kind.

It currently has four groups which meet physically in the space, as well as online, and five which are meeting solely online, including ones focusing on mindfulness and arts and crafts.

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To fund the project, Pop Up Enterprises has launched a membership scheme of £10 a month, which gives people access to one activity a week and use of the communal space.

Mr Gaskin added that people could use extra groups, for an extra cost, and people in need can have reduced memberships.

He also appealed for businesses or organisations to sponsor memberships for people.

The chief executive said: "Anything that connects people and creates friendships is great. Our members might not be a fan of their immediate community or perhaps they don't work."

Mr Gaskin also wanted the hub to help middle aged people with long term health issues, young renters who felt they did not belong to an area and the bereaved, among others.

Nicole Sears taking part in The Bridges Creative Writing Group, which helps adults with mental healt

Nicole Sears taking part in the Bridges Creative Writing Group, which helps adults with mental health issues, at the Shoebox Community Hub in Norwich.  - Credit: Danielle Booden

Nicole Sears, 24, from Norwich, who was attending Bridges Creative Writing Group, which supports people living with or recovering from mental health issues, said: "I like the idea of a membership. It is such a lovely place with no judgement."

The Shoebox also runs an open house coffee morning every Monday morning from 10.30am to 11.30am.

For more information visit www.theshoebox.org.uk or call 01603 850309.


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