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Stoke Ferry's Blue Bell pub opens community café to tackle loneliness and isolation





The Blue Bell pub in Stoke Ferry has opened a community café to provide a place for people to meet up, socialise and help combat loneliness.

The pub, which reopened in June after being purchased by over 400 members of the community a year previously, has opened the café to provide an accessible, safe space for people to get together to tackle loneliness and isolation.

A key focus is to offer support to address the inequalities of physical and mental health and poor access to healthy foods in the area.

Café manager Chloe Gibson celebrates the opening with, from left, CommunityEnterprise spokesman Jim McNeill, directors David Deathe nd Sandra McNeill and Pub is The Hub advisor Terry Stork
Café manager Chloe Gibson celebrates the opening with, from left, CommunityEnterprise spokesman Jim McNeill, directors David Deathe nd Sandra McNeill and Pub is The Hub advisor Terry Stork

The community café, which has been named the Pub Café, was opened with expert help and a Community Services Fund grant from Pub is The Hub, the not-for-profit organisation that helps pubs to diversify and provide essential local services.

With new café manager Chloe Gibson at the helm, it will offer a range of homemade cakes and teas and coffees from Lynn supplier Tropic Coffee.

The café hosts a range of organisations , with the local walking group, cyclists and Cribbage Club using the facilities.

Celebrating outside the community café is manager Chloe Gibson and waitress Charlie Gibson
Celebrating outside the community café is manager Chloe Gibson and waitress Charlie Gibson

With many elderly people living in the area Elderly Persons Lunches are held once a week, offering wholesome meals at discounted prices. There are plans for this to be extended to twice a week.

The pub has also launched a new fruit and veg market in its garden where people can donate and buy locally-grown surplus produce.

The venue offers a range of classic pub dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients, including burgers and homemade chicken and leek pot pie as well as desserts such as Dann’s Farm Norfolk ice-creams.

Jim McNeill, of the Stoke Ferry Community Enterprise, said: “The organising committee and volunteers have worked tirelessly to buy, renovate and reopen the Blue Bell as a community pub and café.

Stoke Ferry Community Enterprise spokesman Jim McNeill, director David Deathe, café manager Chloe Gibson and Enterprise director Sandra McNeill, with Pub is The Hub advisor Terry Stork
Stoke Ferry Community Enterprise spokesman Jim McNeill, director David Deathe, café manager Chloe Gibson and Enterprise director Sandra McNeill, with Pub is The Hub advisor Terry Stork

“We work closely with the parish council on initiatives around helping to reduce poverty and are actively collaborating with other community groups to maximise our social impact.”

Pub is The Hub regional advisor Terry Stork said: “The pub’s committee should feel proud of the vision and hard work they have put into getting the doors reopened. The services the pub is offering are of great benefit to locals.

“This community café will be really key in helping local people to connect, particularly after the pandemic lockdowns which caused many elderly people in the area to experience feelings of loneliness.”

The café opens from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday and the pub opens Wednesday and Thursday 5.30pm to 10pm, Friday 5.30pm to 11pm, Saturday noon to 11pm and Sunday noon to 8pm.



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