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Mayor opens community café to tackle loneliness

A community café in Hereford opened its doors for the first time this weekend, thanks to support from the Big Lottery Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

Saxon Hall’s new community café was officially opened by Mayor Sue Boulter on Saturday (6 October), providing a safe and friendly place for local people to meet together and socialise. This was made possible thanks to £9,000 of National Lottery funding from the Big Lottery Fund, which was awarded last month.

Around 70 people attended the grand opening on Hoarwithy Road and enjoyed a selection of teas, coffees and homemade cakes, whilst being entertained by local dance group, The Dolloway Dancers, who performed a 1940s style dance.

Not only will the new café bring the local community together to help reduce isolation and loneliness, Saxon Hall has also partnered with local charity, ECHO, to provide volunteering opportunities for people with learning disabilities. This will support them to learn new skills in cookery, food hygiene, cash handling and customer relations.

Victoria Craig, Centre Manager at Saxon Hall, said: “We’re so excited to open our first community café and it’s all thanks to National Lottery players. It will help tackle loneliness by providing a warm and welcoming space for people to socialise, as well as support those with learning disabilities to gain work experience. We hope our café will be a focal point for people to enjoy, bring different groups together and help keep community spirit alive.

“I’d also like to thank Jackie Savage from the Co-op Council who has helped to open our café, by volunteering to support and promote the project through the Co-op’s forum and local stores.”

Saxon Hall provides support and activities to the local community including dance classes, meditation sessions, exercise classes, an afternoon club for older people and a stay and play group for babies, children and families. There are also many support groups, including a group for veterans, and a community garden open to the public seven days a week. Rooms at the community centre can be hired for parties, wedding receptions and conferences.

The Mayor of Hereford, Sue Boulter, said: “It was fantastic to be part of the café’s opening event and I really enjoyed meeting staff from Saxon Hall, volunteers from ECHO and people from the local community. I run a luncheon club myself in Whitecross for elderly people, so I’m delighted that this café has opened. It’s been so inspiring to see local people come together for what I’m sure will be a vital space in Hereford. I wish Saxon Hall every success in the future.”

Matt Poole, Head of Regional Funding for the Midlands at the Big Lottery Fund, said: “We’re delighted to be funding this new community café, which is about providing the local community with a place where they can come together to meet new friends and learn new skills. After consulting with local people, Saxon Hall has identified loneliness and isolation as a particular concern and have taken steps to tackle it. This is a fantastic example of people using their ambitions and aspirations to create something wonderful for their local community.”

The Big Lottery Fund distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Last year it awarded over half a billion pounds and supported over 11,000 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes. 90% of the grants it makes are for under £10,000. To find out more visit


Abbey Hartley:, 0121 345 8892
Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours media contact: 07867 500572

Notes to Editors:

The Big Lottery Fund uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions. From small, local projects to UK-wide initiatives, our funding brings people together to make a difference to their health, wellbeing and environment. Since June 2004 we have awarded £9 billion to projects that improve the lives of millions of people.






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