Aylsham charity celebrating tenth anniversary of community cafe

Volunteers at the Orange Blossom Cafe run by the Aylsham District Care Trust.

Volunteers at the Orange Blossom Cafe run by the Aylsham District Care Trust. - Credit: Aylsham District Care Trust

A charity in Aylsham is preparing to celebrate the tenth anniversary of opening its community centre and cafe.

The day services hub, which is run by the Aylsham District Care Trust (ACT), will be ten years old on Wednesday, March 23.

It opened to provide a place for people who might otherwise be isolated to meet friends, socialise and get out of the house.

A file picture of when work began on the Aylsham Community Centre.

A look back at when work began on the Aylsham Community Centre. - Credit: Aylsham District Care Trust

Philip Macdonald, CEO, said: "We are delighted that all the hard work ten years ago has bought us here where we can help connect and serve those in our community that need us most."

The charity itself was created in 1985, when local pharmacist Rees Coughlan saw a need in the town and surrounding areas for supporting the sick and those with physical or mental disabilities, as well as for combatting loneliness.

The day services centre, which includes the Orange Blossom Cafe, is situated within the Hopkins Homes Estate on St Michaels Avenue, next to the Aylsham Health Care Centre and opposite the Green Lanes Residential Homes. 

Mr Macdonald said: "It’s important that we keep encouraging people to find out more about what there is locally to support everyone to live well."

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He said the charity promotes independent living through a day services hub, home care services, volunteer car schemes, supported lunch clubs and a counselling service. 

"We want to keep thriving and certainly expect to be at the heart of our community for another ten years and beyond," Mr Macdonald said.

A plaque at Aylsham District Care Trust's day services hub.

A plaque commemorating the opening of Aylsham District Care Trust's day services hub in March 2012. - Credit: Aylsham District Care Trust

ACT relies on an army of volunteers to help both at the centre and out in the community. Jobs include helping at the coffee shop, assisting passengers on the minibus, taking members to appointments and delivering hot meals to homes. 

The mission of the charity is to improve the health and wellbeing of the community by connecting older people with each other and provide the necessary support they need to live well.

Sandi Ward, volunteer, said: "I feel lucky and privileged to spend so much time at the ACT Centre. It’s not about working in the kitchen or helping on the buses, it’s so much more and allows me to give something back."