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A fortnightly community cafe which started earlier this year offering soup, sandwiches and home baking in Strontian village hall is continuing to thrive.
The events, which run every other Friday from 12.30pm to 2pm, have proved popular with people of all ages – attracting attendees ranging from toddlers to octogenarians.
While it is mostly people from the Strontian area, there have been lunchers from across Ardgour as everyone is welcome.
The cafes began as one several initiatives resulting from a community consultation across Sunart, Morvern, Ardgour, Acharacle and West Ardnamurchan regarding health and social care across the area.
The consultation aimed to understand the health and social care needs and services locally.
Kilchoan and Acharacle already have established lunch clubs and there
was a need identified for something similar in Strontian.
The cafe, which is supported by the kitchen facilities at Dail Mhor House, is volunteer-led, with a team using the kitchen to prepare food and drinks.
Priced at an affordable £4 per person for soup, sandwiches, home baking and hot drinks, with the option to select just part of what is on offer and pay accordingly.
The aim of the community cafe is to get people from all backgrounds and ages together. As project officer Lara Van de Peer explained, it has been going really well so far. She said: ‘At our first lunch, we had 12 people coming along and have had as many as 16 attendees.
‘We find that while people may come in and sit with friends at first, by the end of lunch they are all mixing and mingling together and chatting with everyone.’
Rural communities can be very scattered across large geographical areas and, because of poor public transport links, social isolation can pose a very real problem, with young parents and elderly people particularly suffering from lack of contact with others.
Ms Van de Peer explained that the community cafes can also offer community transport for anyone who would like to come along but would
struggle to get there.
‘We have a community transport project and Dail Mhor also have a vehicle
we are able to use to collect people.’
There are plans to develop the fortnightly events even further by offering local community groups the opportunity to host the events and offer talks or activities.
Ms Van de Peer added: ‘We have a growing pot of money from the events which we plan to use to work with groups such as the local Scouts.’
Alongside the community cafe, there are other regular health and social care events being run at Dail Mhor, including a podiatry clinic and the recent communities connecting event for older people with further plans for the future responding to the issues raised in the consultation.