CAFAG at the Heart of Your Community

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Helping to raise the aspirations of communities and helping to educate individuals about lifestyle changes as well as working to end loneliness is something which is not only vital in an ever changing digital world, but also something which is quite special.

For registered charity CAFAG (Chell Area Family Action Group) all of the above is a core element in the work which they do.

CAFAG are based at the Whitfield Valley Centre, in Fegg Hayes and are an invaluable part of the community they serve. The charity provide activities designed to improve the physical, mental and social health of the communities surrounding them.

Projects carried out by CAFAG see volunteers helping local people with all manner of things including a Community Garden Project in which the team maintain, not just the grounds of the Centre, but also carry out simple landscaping of gardens in the area.

“We have so much going on here at CAFAG,” says CAFAG Community Enterprise Officer Bernie Webbe. “We have a strong emphasis on partnership working within the community providing for the health and wellbeing of the local and wider populations and improving their life chances. As such CAFAG delivers a range of community activities and services in order to address the needs of the latent community. It has a particular focus upon supporting isolated and vulnerable people, people with life limiting health problems, addictions, single parent families, the unemployed, older people and people with mental health problems and disabilities.”

CAFAG was formed in 1995 and opened the Whitfield Valley Centre in 2001 and since then have been able to add to what they can offer members of the public. A popular Youth Club is based at the centre, as well as a multi-purpose gym and mother and baby groups also take place.

In December 2018 the charity were awarded just over £98,000 of funding from the Jo Cox Fund which enabled the employment of two part-time Community Inclusion Officers, the purchase of a disabled friendly mini-bus, refurbishing a small kitchen area, sessional workers, expanded their over 55s Lunch Club with the installation of disabled friendly footpaths and raised beds in CAFAG’s garden area are coming soon…

“We were so thrilled to be awarded the funding,” said Bernie. “There were around 2,457 applications received requesting a total of £191m and only 104 of these were awarded funding so it was extremely competitive. In Stoke alone only three organisations were successful and we were one of them.It has been a big help and so important for us and allows us to do more for our communities.”

CAFAG were also awarded funding through Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Community Investment Fund in 2018 which has been used to refurbish and extend the large kitchen area at the centre. The new kitchen and cafe area allows members of the public to purchase hot and cold food and drinks five days a week and is proving to be very popular.

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Kitchen area at the Whitfield Valley Centre.

“We want to extend what we do in the kitchen now,” adds Bernie. “We have a great team of volunteers and a Catering Supervisor and we serve good quality, home cooked food at very affordable prices. Everyone loves the cafe and we can also do takeaways. In the future we hope to be able to offer people the chance to come in and order meals to take away for their families or themselves. The food will be good hearty food and we will do things like lasagnes, cottage pie, sandwiches and more. We are even thinking about doing theme nights and are hoping to have our first one in October which will be an Indian night and if anyone uses our meeting rooms we can provide food too – there really is a lot going on here and we can cater for many things.”

As well as a sparkling brand new kitchen, a youth club, gym, delightful cafe and garden area, CAFAG host general social events, reading groups and informal meetings. Several meeting rooms of various sizes can also be hired.

Funding has also enabled CAFAG’s Building Connections project called “Together there is Hope”.

“This project aims to build upon the work we are already doing with those who are most at risk of being isolated or suffering from loneliness and to increase our reach so that we are targeting a greater geographical area and those who are more difficult to engage with,” said Bernie.

CAFAG also have a brand new disabled friendly mini-bus which came about with the help of the funding mentioned previously. The mini-bus is used to transport members of the public, who have difficulty getting about, to and from the centre.

“Having the mini-bus was really important to us,” said Bernie. It means we can now get out and reach more people and help those who want to come to the centre but wouldn’t have otherwise been able to get here.”

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CAFAG is a charity to help combat loneliness, to bring people and communities together, to provide support and change lives. CAFAG are at the heart of the community and without a doubt once you’ve visited once you will want to return to the place which so many people call home!

**FIND out more about CAFAG and the facilities on offer by heading over to BabaBaboon’s FEATURED Business Directory here.