Just like the theme tune from Cheers, the coffe lounge at St Mary’s Community Centre in Broadfield is a place where everyone knows your name, and is always glad you came.

And thanks to a £4,000 grant from the Community Investment Fund, the coffee will taste even better with a sophisticated espresso machine and water boiler.

This money is from the Group’s Community Investment Fund, through Community Foundations for Lancashire and Merseyside.

The coffee lounge is a popular place for members of the community to drop by for a free coffee and chat on a Thursday, which is funded by South Ribble Borough Council. With this new investment, the coffee lounge will also be open Monday and Friday mornings, providing coffee and cake at a more affordable price.

Volunteer Janet Malone, who is leading the project, said: “We started the coffee and chat mornings just after lockdown in October to get people out of their houses, so they had someone to talk to. We opened with a team of 10 volunteers and brought board games to help start conversations with people. It is clear from the number of people that come here how much it means to the community, as they enjoy each other's company. 

“I wanted to serve really good coffee, so I applied for the Community Investment Fund, which allowed us to buy a fantastic coffee machine and water boiler.

“I want to thank Progress Housing Group for giving us this money. We also want to say thank you to the amazing volunteers who are helping us serve great coffee at low prices.” 

Neil Townsend, Non-Executive Director at Progress Housing Group, said: "The volunteers are at the heart of projects like this. It makes a real difference to them and they get a lot out of being able to give back. It also makes a difference to the people who visit the coffee lounge, as they are meeting new people, getting back into society, spending time with friends and family. It also helps people who are dealing with loneliness and other issues following the pandemic. It really is a great to have this in the heart of one of our communities."

The coffee lounge offers a place of solitude and comfort for many members of the community, who describe their anxiety about leaving the house post-pandemic, or experience loneliness. Volunteers are always willing to lend a listening ear and signpost people to relevant support services.

Anthony Boulton, volunteer, said: “Sometimes people come here because they are on their own. They can sit at a table where others will join them and get to know people. Or they may want to sit in a corner and read a book.”

Anthony’s wife Kathryn helps out at the community centre’s food bank and admits the volunteering has helped her post lockdown: “During the height of the pandemic, I went into hibernation, which was very hard. So I am very grateful to be able to volunteer and visit this coffee lounge. It gets me out of the house and enables me to talk to people again. It helps with my anxiety.”

We are incredibly proud of one of our Progress Futures customers, Amy McDonald, who is a coffee lounge volunteer and she says she cannot wait to train as a barista.

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She said: “I am really grateful to Cathy from Progress Futures for putting me forward for this volunteering role, as I am enjoying it. I am getting some great experience and making friends. Progress Futures has been a great support for me, as the team has also helped me find a flat and sort my bills.”

The coffee lounge is also supported by Leyland and Farington Hub, who donated funds for an industrial dishwasher.

Councillor Mick Titherington, who joined us for a coffee during the launch, said: “The coffee lounge is a tremendous asset for the community, serving the people of Broadfield and beyond. We all know how the pandemic has impacted mental health and social isolation, so it is great to see these volunteers reaching out to the community.”


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  • The free coffee and a chat mornings are every Thursday, 9.30am until noon. The coffee lounge will also be open Monday and Fridays, 9.30am until noon.

If you are involved with a local community project or have a great idea that you think would benefit your community, please let us know, as we may be able to help you through our Community Investment Fund. To find out more, visit /community-investment/ or email community@progressgroup.org.uk