Expanding our Compassionate Cafés programme in St Albans

Five new locations for our Compassionate Cafes to open by January 2024.

Expanding our Compassionate Cafés programme in St Albans

Compassionate cafe volunteer with patientWe are delighted to announce the expansion of our Compassionate Cafés in St Albans as we continue to support local community members who are coping with loneliness and isolation following the loss of a loved one.

Our Community Engagement team has been running Compassionate Cafés in locations across Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire for 18 months, and noticed a significant rise in the need for these supportive services as people cope with delayed grief due to COVID-19.

With funding from St Albans City and District Council (SADC), Community Project Fund and the Locality budgets of some of the local councillors, we will be able to run Compassionate Cafés in five locations across the city over the next year. The programme is made possible thanks to partnerships and support from local organisations that have the space, position in the community and the amazing people who give their time.

Alison May, Community Engagement Manager at Rennie Grove Peace said:

“The Cafés are a simple idea, but there is such a need for them. We understand how lonely and isolating grief can be and we hope our Compassionate Cafés offer a chance to share that loss with people who understand, to find new friends and to share positive moments together each week, over a cup of tea.”

Run by trained volunteers, who are on hand to welcome and chat to attendees, the sessions are very informal in structure and do not run as a support group or counselling session – as one attendee reflects:

“It’s a very relaxed gathering with others experiencing the same up and down feelings you are. There is laughter and sometimes some tears, with the chance to make wonderful new friends.”

Come with a friend

Taking the first step can be daunting.  Alison says:

“We know that walking through the door the first time can be scary. So why not come with a friend – and at some venues your dog – so you can see it’s a safe, welcoming, and friendly space. Anyone is welcome. If you think you would benefit or know someone who might – please do come along.”

A step forward

Beyond the emotional support that the Compassionate Cafés provide, there is also practical guidance to help people reconnect and engage with the community, whether that’s finding a new hobby, career, or activity. One attendee said:

“Without doubt, the Compassionate Café made such a positive difference to me. It was wonderful to meet like-minded people who understood what I was going through and gave me the space to talk about how I was feeling, and where I could share my memories and my experiences. I feel I have now gained a renewed sense of purpose and structure in my life, and I am in a much better place than a few months ago – I’m now even looking at volunteering myself.”

Free to Attend

The Compassionate Cafés will run in the following locations:

Cottonmill Community & Cycling Centre
Cottonmill Lane, St. Albans AL1 2EF
Last Tuesday, 12-1:30 pm.
In partnership with Leeanna’s Wish.
From January 2024

Cross Street Café
Cross Street Centre, 1 Cross St, St Albans AL3 5EE
2nd Thursday, 10-11:30 am.
In partnership with Cross Street Centre.
From December 2023

Jersey Farm Café
Jersey Farm Community Centre, 3 St. Brelades Pl, St Albans AL4 9RG
2nd Friday, 2.30-4 pm.
In partnership with Ridgeway Church.
From January 2024

St Saviours Church Hall
Sandpit Lane, St Albans AL1 4DF
2nd Tuesday, 2-3.30 pm.
In partnership with St Saviours Church.
From December 2023

Café on the Corner
39 Catherine Street, St Albans AL3 5BJ
3rd Saturday, 10.30-12 pm.
In partnership with Camphill Village Trust.
From January 2024

Any questions? Get in touch

If you would like any further information about our Compassionate Cafes please email compassion@renniegrovepeace.org or call 01923 330 330.