Sarah and Ian Fitch of Cuppa café in Felixstowe who joined Compassionate Communities in 2021
Owner of the Cuppa café, Sarah Fitch, who recently joined the project as a Compassionate Friend, to help establish Compassionate Felixstowe, said: “Since opening the Cuppa Café has evolved to become a real community hub. We have many customers who have become friends and meet regularly to chat and support each other.
“Before the impact of the pandemic, we hosted events such as Friendly Fridays, which brought isolated people together over a free cup of tea each week, so we were excited to join St Elizabeth Hospice in promoting the Compassionate Communities project.
“Now more than ever before, people need each other for support and Compassionate Communities enables community groups and individuals to join together to ensure no one is forgotten and all have places to go to find help.”
A familiar face to many in Felixstowe and the surrounding area, Sarah and her husband Ian set up Cuppa Café on High Road West, Felixstowe, in June 2019 having moved to the area more than a decade previously.
Initially beginning as a costume shop, the Cuppa Café has become a popular community centre known for hosting events for all members of the community to enjoy including charity activities, book clubs and live music.
Sarah explained: “We get a lot of regulars of all ages coming to the café to pick up a hot drink as they pass, stopping for a short chat, or those have the time to come in and sit down and talk about what’s going in their lives.
“I really like the social side of running the café and coffee and cakes are the perfect way to strike up conversation and get to know people in your community.
“When we were contacted by St Elizabeth Hospice about Compassionate Communities we had no hesitation in joining, as through our day-to-day running of the café we know the importance of taking the time to get to know members of your local community and supporting one another.
“It’s so important to ensure nobody is left feeling isolated and community hubs, like the Cuppa, are great places for people to walk in by themselves and have conversations about any subject. It’s all about living your best life and helping others enjoy their lives too which is at the heart of why we run the café.”
Although government guidelines, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, have restricted the Cuppa café team to providing takeaways, since joining Compassionate Communities in early 2021, Sarah has made sure the café has remained an ever-present for those in their community who enjoy their regular catch ups.
“Much like the work of St Elizabeth Hospice, being a part of Compassionate Communities is ensuring you are there to support others in whatever way you can, especially during the difficult times brought by COVID-19,” said Sarah.
“Throughout the lockdowns we have continued our ‘talking takeaway’ service and hosted online raffles for people to participate in and to remain connected.
“The link with St Elizabeth Hospice is important too as the information and guidance they provide means, as a Compassionate Friend, you are able to have open conversations with people who may be living through difficult times in their lives as a result of the death of a loved one.
“Through Compassionate Communities we can confront these difficult subjects together and learn to help one another. Something so simple as lending an ear and talking without judgement or fear can make a huge difference to somebody and that is something Compassionate Communities and we at Cuppa café want to promote."