Members of the Northern Region Member & Community Council (Elaine, Phil & Joanna) joined up with Ali, the local Member Pioneer for the Co-op Group at the cafe in our Castle Donington Store for a 'Time to Talk' event for mental health awareness.

Shoppers in store were invited into the cafe for free cups of tea and coffee along with cake tastings and toasted hot X buns. Everyone was encouraged to sit on tables with others and to have a chat.

We had a lot of disabled visitors and they were delighted to come and talk to us and to other shoppers as many lived on their own and often feel lonely. On this particular day there were community transport buses bringing local residents in to do their shopping with carers to help so it was a really good day for such a venture as the people coming in were in many cases vulnerable and lonely.

Some of the cafe visitors were adults bringing elderly parents to do their weekly shop and they were really glad to be invited in to such a friendly space.

We also attracted quite a number of men on their own, some were older and doing their shop but others were local workmen calling in for lunch and many were happy to join in the chat about mental health and wellbeing.

Manager Matt Simpson said he was delighted to see this initiative in store as he prepares for a major refit of the store and cafe to provide first class retail opportunities and cafe facilities for the local community.

Written by Elaine Dean, Northern MCC.