As I went on my way up to the Manor area, I was anxious about what to expect from the social café. New things always heighten my anxiety as it’s difficult to gauge what to expect and the weather wasn’t particularly helping with it being cold and gloomy. What did help was the location though of the social café. Straight away I noticed that it being located within the Manor library not only allowed you to be in nice surroundings (I have always found libraries to be very relaxing and calming places) but also meant you were right outside the tram stop. For someone with anxiety, being able to take the tram right to where the library was really helped put me at ease.
Upon entering the library I was directed by the lovely staff on reception to where the café was taking place. I entered the room and found myself in the middle of a quiz going on between two teams. Although the staff hadn’t been expecting me to arrive, they were very welcoming when I explained who I was and how I was from Flourish to write a story about them. I then got myself a drink and watched the results of the quiz that had started before I got there unfold.
I noticed straight away that everyone in the group was enjoying themselves and getting involved as much as possible. Importantly though I noticed there was no pressure for people to get involved if they did not want too which made me feel relaxed as well. There was around 12 people there, with others joining later and some leaving early; and as I later found out there was quite a variety of people with different backgrounds attending the sessions.
Speaking to a couple of people running the café, I got a definite sense that they try to put on as many varied events, each fortnight, as they can to keep things fun and interesting. They regularly have speakers from different organisations and during my time there, we heard from both a trading standards representative and a bank worker about how to stay vigilant for fraudulent activity and know how sophisticated the new fraudsters are.
This talk was really good as, while everyone needs to be vigilant for these frauds and scams, people with mental illnesses or caring for those with mental illnesses are even more vulnerable than the wider public. I myself found the talks very eye-opening even as someone who likes to think of themselves as quite knowledgeable and tech savvy.
During the café, I got the chance to talk to a couple of people there. Chatting to one woman, who had been going to sessions for over a year now, my heart warmed to hear that she felt like the cafes were a place she could go too, feel like part of a community and get involved as much as she wanted too. She was someone who had been struggling, living alone, to find something to do and not feel alone. Being in this café and having a place to come too where she was welcomed was what this café gives her and that for me is exactly why community groups like this are brilliant and need more support.
Peter attended the Springboard Social Café late last year. This Social Café runs at Manor Library fortnightly on Mondays 10am-4pm. Further details: manorandcastle.org.uk/health-wellbeing/mental-health-wellbeing There are also Springboards in other areas of Sheffield E: firstname.lastname@example.org