A COMMUNITY cafe has opened in south Hereford which aims to reduce isolation and loneliness.

The cafe at Saxon Hall in Hoarwithy Road opened its doors for the first time at the weekend, thanks to £9,000 from the Big Lottery Fund.

The café was officially opened by Mayor Sue Boulter on Saturday, providing a safe and friendly place for residents to meet together and socialise.

Around 70 people attended the opening and enjoyed a selection of teas, coffees and cakes, while being entertained by dance group The Dolloway Dancers.

Saxon Hall has also partnered with charity ECHO to provide volunteering opportunities for people with learning disabilities. This will support them to learn new skills in cookery, food hygiene, cash handling and customer relations.

Victoria Craig, centre manager at Saxon Hall, said: “We’re so excited to open our first community café and it’s all thanks to National Lottery players.

"It will help tackle loneliness by providing a warm and welcoming space for people to socialise, as well as support those with learning disabilities to gain work experience. We hope our café will be a focal point for people to enjoy, bring different groups together and help keep community spirit alive."

She thanked Jackie Savage from the Co-op Council who helped to open the café by volunteering to support and promote the project through the Co-op’s forum and local stores.

Saxon Hall provides support and activities to the community including dance classes, meditation sessions, exercise classes, an afternoon club for older people and a stay and play group for babies, children and families. There are also many support groups.

Councillor Boulter said: “It was fantastic to be part of the café’s opening event and I really enjoyed meeting staff from Saxon Hall, volunteers from ECHO and people from the local community.

"I run a luncheon club myself in Whitecross for elderly people, so I’m delighted that this café has opened. It’s been so inspiring to see local people come together for what I’m sure will be a vital space in Hereford. I wish Saxon Hall every success in the future.”