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Dementia-friendly cafe hosts events to encourage social integration

​A dementia-friendly café in Lowestoft run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) and a local social enterprise, is combatting social isolation by providing a range of activities for service users, their carers, and the public. 

The Papavero Café, based at Carlton Court, Carlton Colville first opened in December 2016 and has recently started offering events such as a monthly dementia lunch club and Italian classes, with art classes next on the agenda.

The news comes on World Mental Health Day which takes place today (Tuesday, 10 October) and aims to raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilise efforts in support of mental health.

The café is accessible to service users with dementia and staff are trained to deal with communication issues, disorientation and changes in mood and behaviour.

As well as providing special events, the coffee bar/restaurant is open from 9.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday and serves nutritious hot meals, homemade cakes, snacks, hot and cold drinks.

Sari Kelsey, Deputy Service Manager for Adult Community Services, said: “Its all about encouraging social integration which is very important for people with dementia. We also hope to reduce some of the stigma that surrounds mental health, for those learning to live well with dementia or any other mental health condition.

“Dementia can be a lonely condition so encouraging people living with dementia to come to the café and interact with others is beneficial for combatting social isolation.

NSFT’s Great Yarmouth and Waveney Dementia and Complexity in Later Life service and the Dementia and Intensive Support Team who provide support to adults with age-related mental health needs are based on the same site as the café.

Recovery College are also based at the site and deliver courses that are developed by staff and service users for those open to mental health services. These co-produced courses are collaboratively delivered and students can enjoy access to the café.

Sari added: “Families and carers can bring their loved ones who are in our services here to spend some quality time in a calm and safe space, which is not a clinical space.

“One of our dementia lunch clubs featuring music from a talented saxophonist was very popular amongst service users as they were able to reminisce using music.”

Papavero is a social enterprise set up by Helen Maneghello and the café is staffed by local volunteers, many of whom have learning disabilities or lived experience of mental health issues themselves.

Helen Maneghello, Café owner, said: “Not only do our volunteers receive food hygiene training, which can help them to find employment in catering, they also gain confidence and an ability to interact with people with different mental health conditions.

To visit the café, go to the Carlton Court reception to be buzzed in. For more information about how to volunteer at the café and upcoming events, email: or call 07469 728881.