CARESCO is a unique charity based in the Sawtry village near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire. CARESCO exists to serve the local community in Sawtry and its satellite villages. Under the CARESCO umbrella are several services offered to the local community, including the Green End Day Club, the Cave, the Friday drop-in cafe, the carers support group, a music-based social group, a Christmas Day party, and the charity shop which helps to fund CARESCO's activities. In partnership with other organisations, CARESCO also hosts the local foodbank in collaboration with the local churches and the village car scheme in cooperation with Cambridge & Peterborough Combined Authority. CARESCO also edits and publishes the popular Sawtry Eye magazine. There are many ways for individuals to get involved and help with the work of CARESCO, but they are very thankful of all their volunteers.
Here is the story of just one of their valued volunteers, Carolyn.
On her retirement in February 2020, Carolyn signed up as a volunteer with CARESCO and agreed to take on co-ordinating our weekly Friday Coffee Shop, a drop-in café space where people can spend time with friends, meeting new people and enjoying a simple menu including hot drinks, home-made cake and bacon butties.
The Coffee Shop is staffed by a small dedicated team of volunteers who often also make and donate the various cakes and other treats on offer each week. In particular, Carolyn’s cheese scones prove very popular. All proceeds raised are used to support CARESCO and enable us to run our range of community services
Carolyn has ably taken on the challenge, built up her own team of dedicated volunteer helpers and cake makers, and added her own creative touch to the space used in our building. The Coffee Shop has a wide range of customers and Carolyn has proved to be more than capable in keeping them all happy and the conversation going. Those who are particularly fussy about their tea / mug / bacon are catered for so they get the right tea strength / china / crispiness each time.
Having just got started, the Covid pandemic hit in March 2020 and everything stopped. Yet Carolyn was able, post-lockdowns, to oversee the various stages of restarting the Coffee Shop and managing the relevant government restrictions to keep the customers and team as safe as possible and encouraging the nervous back out.
As a bonus, the income from the Coffee Shop has significantly increased under Carolyn’s leadership. Although the Coffee Shop is a service to our community, the steady income always helps.
Under Carolyn’s co-ordination, customer numbers have slowly grown until the room is full on Friday mornings and every seat taken. When she started there was one dominating clique who were not known for their welcome or friendliness if a new visitor appeared, but now all are encouraged to join in and be part of the conversation. The space is a buzz the whole session with many staying on right to the end.
The positivity and encouragement that can be felt during sessions is mostly down to Carolyn and the way she handles the customers and the room. People enjoy being there and want to come back.