The Meeting Place

16 July 2018

Social café in Stocksbridge Wins National Award

“The Meeting Place” receives Community Project Award for initiative to help combat isolation

A project which aims to integrate isolated people within their local community has won a coveted national award in recognition of the work it undertakes. The Meeting Place, which is run from the community hall at Christ Church Stocksbridge, has been named as a Community Project Award winner and receives a £2,000 prize.

Sarah Knightley the Social Café Coordinator and John Cornell Chair of the leadership team at Christ Church, received the award at the United Reformed Church General Assembly held in Nottingham on Saturday 7 July.  The awards, sponsored by national church insurer Congregational Insurance, recognise the efforts of churches that engage with their local community, to establish and maintain social initiatives.

The Meeting Place Social Café was developed out of discussions between several key services in the valley, who identified a need to provide additional support for people who are isolated and find it difficult to access support, or for those in need of companionship.  The café is funded through the Methodist and United Reformed churches with support from Sheffield City Council and has the backing of Stockbridge Town Council as well as voluntary and statutory services and organisations in the area. 

The weekly session held on Monday mornings is run by a team of 15 volunteers some of whom provide activities such as crafts and games, whilst other volunteers work on a one to one basis with members where a specific need has been identified, others prepare the breakfast and lunch.  Support and advice is also available to those wishing to access organisations and services as well as information about local community groups and other activities in the valley.  

Sarah Knightley said “We are delighted to have been presented with an award for our work with isolated people in our local community. The Meeting Place Social Cafe provides a friendly, supportive place that people who are feeling lonely and isolated can come to each week to mix with others, take part in new activities, find out about other local groups, and receive support in accessing local services.

The prize money will enable us to introduce new activities and opportunities for our clients within the Social Café sessions. We have also identified a need that some clients require one to one support to actually help them get out of the house to come to the Social Café, so the prize money will help us to extend our service in order to provide this support. We would also like to be able to offer more trips and outings.”

Margaret Slater, Marketing Manager of Congregational Insurance, said “we place a strong focus on supporting community initiatives that really make a difference and unite people.   The Meeting Place Social Café has embraced some local challenges and provides much needed services, friendship and social interaction for many people who might otherwise have felt excluded.”

Kevin Watson and Alan Yates, Moderators of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church and two of the judges that grant the awards said “we are confident that the cash prize will make a positive difference to the work undertaken by the Meeting Place Social Café. We are very grateful that these awards enable us to showcase projects demonstrating the URC’s' love for the community.”

To view short films of this year’s award winners, visit https://youtu.be/qiKJ_TuhcZQ