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Church project brings vital support to Easington.

An Easington church project, helped by Foundation fund holder UMi, is changing lives through a simple idea.

Church Action for Families in Easington – known as CAFE Together – was launched ten years ago to offer tasty food and friendship to the local community. Each Thursday, a nutritious hot meal is served for £1 per person at Easington Colliery Methodist Church, on Seaside Lane, to ease the isolation of local families.

Thanks to the dedication of its volunteers, the project has achieved all of this and so much more.

Strong communities

With a £5,000 grant from UMi, through County Durham Community Foundation, CAFE Together has rebuilt links with local people after the pandemic.

Many who rely on the project are struggling with poor health, debt and isolation. But the CAFE Together projects offers a warm welcome and support with these problems.

Julie Laidler from the project said: “There is a long road ahead and a slow one. People need to see that we are confident in keeping them safe and valued, but also that there is stability in the project.

“By having this funding we have not only been able to keep going through the pandemic, but been able to adapt to what people need.”

The project now offers food at the church café, and delivers  meals to those who cannot attend in person. Many friendships have formed because of the project, and volunteers also signpost people to services that can help them with serious issues such as debt and food poverty.

Care reduces shame

For example, One local parent has built a trusting relationship with volunteers and other families who use the café, and gets extra support for their children, who have additional needs.

Julie added: “Our volunteers are amazing and people see their confidence. At first people would come and just look through the fence, but the next week they would come and talk at the door, and finally they would come inside.”

As part of the Faith in the Community network, the project also ran a uniform scheme to help children return to school with confidence. Many families took take less than they needed so that more people can benefit, and the project volunteers encouraged these families to reach out for help they were entitled to.

Julie said: “We make them feel valued, so they don’t feel ashamed when they need a bit of help.”

One parent even said that they thought they could have lost their home without the support they received through the project.

(1) No Poverty (2) Zero Hunger (3) Good Health and Wellbeing (10) Reduced Inequalities (11) Sustainable Cities and Communities

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