One of the things I do outside of my reports for Listen Up at Groundswell is helping to run an afternoon cafe, once a week, in an established setting, which also provides daily breakfast for those experiencing homelessness, social exclusion and loneliness.
Our simple offer is on what people want to do – no statutory presence, unless invited in – from a simple cuppa and a chat, to grabbing a bit of pizza, kindly gifted by a local restaurant, to listening to music from their own playlists, which we regularly welcome updates on.
For some, it’s an opportunity to connect, for others it’s a place for a quiet kip. Others ask for help with applications online or help with a phone call to services… kinda advocacy help.
We make no judgements, everyone is welcome, our only rule is respect for others.
I’ll be honest, it’s tasty at times, as life happens to be… we attempt humour and compassion together, not always compatible, but mostly effective.
People come, people go, but it’s a consistent setting the city are aware of, and newcomers are always welcomed. We don’t tell people what to do, when to do it, or that they can’t do it, unlike most other services they have experienced.
Maybe statutory could learn from this approach.