Jess visits Sheffield's first cat cafe and gives us the lowdown on the residents there. Cat cuddles and cake; that's proper therapy.
Liz Davies: Renew 6 – A mental health cafe
Liz Davies writes about a mental health café in Walkley; a quiet space where it’s OK to not be OK
On a grey October afternoon when my mood matched the weather I visited Renew 6, a cafe in Walkley where it is ‘a quiet space where it’s okay to not be okay’. I was made to feel welcome and invited to have a hot (free) drink and cake or biscuits and to join a table where people were doing a craft activity. I did not have to join in. There were other tables and chairs with games, magazines or books and a reflective corner with comfy sofas and cushions.
Lydia and Jill are the inspiration behind the cafe. Renew 6 is a community space run by volunteers with Christian values. They are very grateful for the use of the space in Cafe Pie, where the owners Alex and Telicia are right behind the project that allows Jill and Lydia to open the mental health cafe.
The cafe offers activities based on the ‘5 ways to wellbeing’:
2. keep learning
3. be active
4. take notice
I enjoyed my afternoon at the cafe and was easily engrossed in a craft project where I had an end product to take home. (Again there was no charge for the materials, but people can make a donation if they wish). I made a decorated box which I was very pleased with. I am not saying I leapt out of the cafe totally healed of my mental health problem but my mood was lifted for the time I was there by the people attending the cafe, who were friendly but not intrusive.
I have visited again recently, both when I felt well and chatted happily to people, and another time when I felt really quite low and could hardly talk. I felt comfortable that I didn’t have to talk and I didn’t have to explain myself with the people who were there. I felt that they understood. Sometimes empathy is better than tea and sympathy, tea and chats better than talking therapy, crafting better than medicine, compassion and kindness more healing than psychology. But I cover all bases, I keep taking the medicine, and do the ‘5 ways to wellbeing’.
The Renew 6 vision is to create relationships with like-minded people in a welcoming space where people can share habits for good mental and emotional wellbeing. At the end of each session there is an opportunity for prayer or meditation or reflection. Anyone is welcome to join in with this or leave as they feel appropriate for them. Jill and Lydia hope one day that Renew 6 will grow into a 4 day a week café.
Give it a go it might work for you.
Renew 6 is held every Wednesday from 3.30-5.30pm at:
Cafe pie, 382 South Road, Walkley
Contact 0114 241 9560