Cash for coffee and community

The Chex team with Sharon Gower third from the left ANL-160905-112058001
The Chex team with Sharon Gower third from the left ANL-160905-112058001

Haverhill’s Chalkstone Estate is getting a Community Café with a parent and toddler group and more thanks to Health Lottery grant.

Chalkstone Exchange (CHEX) are getting £50,000, raised by Healthintend through the Health Lottery, over two years to refurbish part of Chalkstone Community Centre and open the café this summer.

Sharon Gower, CHEX project manager, said it will initially be open on Mondays and Thursdays and the plan is to have a parent and toddler group on Mondays and an ‘unseen’ group on Thursdays for people with unseen illnesses and their families.

October half term will see self-esteem classes for women and girls.

Sharon said: “I don’t think there’s anything like the self-esteem classes or the unseen group in Haverhill.”

She said there was a great need for the ‘unseen’ support group because there are so many conditions, such as fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease and chronic pain, that are not visible to other people.

But she stressed: “They’re not going to just come and moan about their illnesses – we’re going to have fun.”

She added: “The idea of a community café is the folk will come into the café and for us to get to know them. If there’s a group we’re running that suits them, we will point them in that direction, but if there’s a group that want to come and start something, we can help them to set up.”

Sharon has lived on the Chalkstone Estate for 17 years and first dreamt of a community café in the community centre when she began taking her children to the nearby park.

She recalled: “I used to sit on the swings whilst my children played, watching people wandering to and from the shops in Strasbourg Square, or in and out of town, and wish that there was café in the centre so that folk could take some time to sit with a cup of tea, have a chat and generally get to know each other.

“CHEX is all about meeting the social and emotional needs of the community. We hope that CHEX can play its part in further developing Chalkstone Community Centre so that it can become the real social hub that it once was.”

Sharon is keen to hear from anyone that would like to be involved, as she is setting up a steering group for CHEX. You can contact her on 07961096659 or info@chexhaverhill.org.uk

HealthIntend is a community interest company committed to raising money to address health inequalities in Suffolk. Visit www.healthintendcic.org.uk

The Health Lottery is operated for and on behalf of 51 community interest companies across England, Scotland and Wales. Visit www.healthlottery.co.uk