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Positive response to new community cafe in Norwich

​Organisers of a new community café in Norwich are delighted with the response to its first monthly session.

About 20 people attended yesterday, including half-a-dozen residents from Hethersett Hall care home, near Norwich, and patients from Hammerton Court, a specialist dementia care unit at Norwich’s Julian Hospital, and patients from the hospital’s Sandringham Ward, which is for older people who have a functional mental illness.

The “Hammerton Court Community Café” initiative is being led by Age UK Norwich, an independent charity, and opens 11am – 1pm on the third Wednesday of every month in the unit’s well-established café. It is being supported by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), which runs the Julian Hospital.

The community café is open to all and anyone can just pop along, but it is particularly suitable for people, of any age group, who are lonely or who have a diagnosis of dementia or a functional mental illness, such as depression, schizophrenia, mood disorders or anxiety, and their carers.

Charlotte Kippin, Community and Neighbourhood Support Manager at Age UK Norwich, said she was pleased with yesterday’s first session.

“The people who went along were keen to engage and talk, and there was plenty of laughter – you can’t really put a price on that,” she said.

“Ali Pearce and Karen Joyce, who are reminiscence volunteers who work for Marks and Spencer, were there and were excellent ice-breakers.

“They had a suitcase containing food packaging from the 50s and 60s, a lady’s bedjacket from over half-a-century ago and some old photos of Norwich, which they used to start conversations.”

Ms Kippin said that Age UK Norwich is keen to hear from volunteers who would like to help at the community café. Reminiscence training will be provided.

The idea for a community café at Hammerton Court came from Nicky Gordon, Deputy Service Manager for Older People’s Inpatient Services at the Julian Hospital.

“I’m very pleased with how it went,” she said. “Some of our nurses and activity co-ordinators attended to support those people who turned up and their carers, and it was great to see our patients enjoying themselves in a social environment.

“I’m hoping it becomes as well-established and valued as the other monthly community cafes that Age UK Norwich already run at the Marks and Spencer, Jarrolds and John Lewis stores in the city.”

Mrs Gordon added that Hethersett Hall had provided positive feedback, saying that parking had been easy and the disabled toilet facilities had been much appreciated.

Drinks, freshly-made sandwiches and paninis, jacket potatoes and light bites were available for sale.

The café at Hammerton Court, which is run by the same people who own the Bond Street Café in Norwich, opens 9am-3pm on weekdays, and is for use by members of the public, as well as patients, staff and carers.

The plan is for the monthly community cafe to develop so that advice can be provided to people attending, who will also have a chance to take part in activities such as boccia and curling, which people with limited mobility can join in. It also provides an opportunity for carers to take a break in a relaxing environment.

The next Hammerton Court Community Café session will take place on Wednesday, 21 November, 11am – 1pm.

* Anyone wanting more information about Hammerton Court Community Café or who is interested in volunteering there should contact Cathy Eden, Community Outreach Officer at Age UK Norwich. Tel 01603 496333; email

Caption: A patient from Sandringham Ward enjoys her visit to Hammerton Court Community Cafe yesterday.

To see a gallery of photos from the first session, click here.

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