A cafe owner from Eastwood has launched an initiative designed to strengthen community links and engage with the elderly.
The Market Cafe in Market Place, Heanor, already serves hot meals to around ten paying pensioners a day and owner Simon Minto, who lives in Eastwood wants to expand the scheme as he believes it performs a valuable service for older residents.
He said: “We phone them up in the morning and tell them what we have got. It means that they have got a point of contact every day. People look forward to that conversation. Some people have forgotten how to cook or even if they have eaten that day, so I feel it is a necessary service.”
Ann Turner enthusiastically endorses the service. Her 86-year-old mother Brenda takes advantage of the scheme.
Ann said: “Because I work it’s invaluable to know that mum has a hot meal every day. Someone will go in and if she’s not well they will get a message to me. She wasn’t well a few weeks ago so Simon took sandwiches and salad and made sure she was eating, which is an important thing.”
Simon, 29, has been involved in catering for nearly ten years.
A three-day visit to his brother in Edinburgh turned into two-year stay and his first job in the pub trade. A stint as front of house manager at the Regency Suite in Ilkeston confirmed his ambition to work for himself and he took on the cafe in March 2011.
However, trade was tough. Simon has noted a decline in the number of younger people using local cafes.
“Eight months ago it was touch and go as to whether I carried on - now it’s flying,” he said, adding that his work with Heanor Traders’ Association and local attempts to boost the Market Place , like Love Heanor, seem to have helped. “It’s like stoking the fire to get it hot later - we did a lot of groundwork over the past 18 months and now it’s paying off.
“Maybe people have budgeted their money and are now in the routine of their weekly and monthly spends.”
Simon’s latest business brainwave has been to sell advertising space to local businesses on a plasma TV screen in the cafe. And he promises to unveil a brand-new scheme later in the year.