“I’d started a family and had enough of fast track marketing. My son then became poorly so I wanted to focus on him and the family. I set up my own consultancy business and got involved with Cape to get them online - and just kept coming back. That was 15 years ago.”
The Cape was set up in 1992 by Bishop Stanford Fairin BEM, who is still very active in his role as Chairman. The Cape is a vibrant, award-winning day care centre bringing vulnerable elderly people aged 65-98 from the local migrant communities together for meals and activities. Around 70% have dementia, and 80% have some form of disability, so their services are in high demand. There’s a £10 charge, which includes transport, food throughout the day, lots of activities, and usually some bakery, sandwiches or spare dinners to take home.
“There’s always lots of food and drinks on offer, in a nice warm room, plus physical and brain exercises to help them be as mentally agile as possible,” Paulette says. “People really look forward to it – and they are such lovely characters, it’s always a total pleasure to spend time with them.
“We take them out once a month in the warmer months; and we offer a Wednesday visiting service, as well as a weekly coffee morning, telephone befriending, prescription and grocery collection, medical appointment accompaniment and a parent and toddler group. Many older locals no longer have family and friends in the area, so we are accessible throughout the year to keep everyone connected, cared for and part of our community.
“It’s so important for all of us, but especially older people, to be able to socialise regularly – and the holidays can be particularly hard for people on their own – so we don’t let that happen. Our motto is ‘A home from home environment that is full, fun and warm – where everyone is someone and belongs’.”
The Centre has expanded its support because of a huge increase in demand for food, and it now also runs a foodbank, as well as the Youth Creation Kids Club for 7-15 year old local children. Paulette says:
"In term time we usually have between 15-25 kids come in for a meal. This is a hugely
deprived area – there’s lots of lots of alcoholism, unemployment and homelessness. Add in the devastating impact of the cost of living crisis and spiralling bills, and you have a very real situation that those children might well go without food if we didn’t support them.
“During the summer the number shoots up to more than 40 children, because they are no longer receiving free school meals when the schools shut. They are a really good bunch of young people, and some even help volunteer at the day care centre over the summer, as their way of saying thank you.”
The Cape Community Centre receives surplus food deliveries from FareShare Midlands, as well as visiting local Tesco stores as part of the FareShare Go scheme.
“We couldn’t do without FareShare, it’s as simple as that. We’re all volunteers, money is tight and grants are difficult to secure. The FareShare food enables us to support both young and old in our community and offer things like a Christmas community party and luncheon for both groups – which can really be such a lifeline for people.
“The food is key to human wellbeing. We weren’t designed to sit at home alone for weeks on end, so eating well cooked meals and taking part in regular exercise and mental stimulation helps our older people ward off dementia and stay in their homes longer – and take pressure off the NHS itself. For the younger people, a regular meal means they are more alert at school and more able to play and enjoy themselves during the holidays.
“I wish no one was in the situation of having to go without food, it’s horrifying and dehumanising – but I’m very glad that with FareShare’s help, we can do what we can to help. Everyone counts, everyone is somebody.”