Northampton coffee shop launches online sessions for socialising
A new social enterprise working online while the coffee shop is unable to open has already helped combat loneliness and provide much-needed socialisation for people across Northampton.
Saints Coffee was supposed to open last year where high quality, sustainable coffee will be served and a proportion of the profits will be pumped back into social impact projects.
Due to the pandemic, the shop has so far been unable to get up and running, so the owners, along with volunteers, decided to launch the community projects online, under the #NNBlockParty banner.
Since December 2020, Ben Francoise, founder of Saints Coffee, along with an old school friend, Callum Bentley, have been running ‘coffee in the community’ sessions over Zoom, and have also made more than 60 one-to-one calls to those who are experiencing loneliness.
Callum, who is currently on furlough, says he regularly meets people through work who only see someone once a week and that is normally a tradesperson.
The 35-year-old said: “I’ve always been keen on helping out where I can and I wanted to do something productive while I was on furlough.
“So many people out there don’t see anyone all week other than tradespeople and that was obviously not going to get any better with lockdown.
“I wanted to help and it all stemmed from there.
“I also got my old rugby team involved for the virtual clubhouse as a couple of the lads I know had been struggling in lockdown with not seeing friends.”
Ben and Callum were keen to reach a younger generation who might not associate with words such as ‘lonely’ or ‘isolated’, but may be missing socialising.
The Saturday night virtual clubhouse allows each team to have their own ‘break out’ room, but also means teams can get together and take part in quizzes or games.
Callum added: “I’ve been amazed by the response from some of the lads on Saturday nights.
“Some of them have been dubious but then they’ve told me after they couldn’t believe how much they had missed the social aspect of the sport.
“With all the sessions, they’re not anything magic or difficult, just some hard work to organise it. It’s essentially just getting people to have a chat but the power of that is mind-blowing.”
Ben is hoping the coffee shop will be able to open as soon as possible once lockdown restrictions are lifted sufficiently.
Plans are in place to continue all of the social outreach projects that are currently being run online and Ben even has a minibus lined up to bring people to the coffee shop, once restrictions allow.
To get in touch and join any of the sessions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @saintscoffeeshop on Instagram and Facebook.