Café bus offers cuppa and company in Wick

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FIGHTING loneliness and providing a comforting place to relax for some of Wick’s most vulnerable residents is the aim of a new community project, launched this week.

The ROC Café Bus will be touring parts of Wick to help encourage elderly and retired people out of their homes and into their communities.

The scheme, which is being supported by national charity ROC (Redeeming Our Communities), as well as Sussex Police and churches in Littlehampton, was officially launched on Monday and has already proved to be a popular asset.

Emily Forde, 93, is one of those who used the free mobile café when it stopped near her home in Jays Close, where she has lived for 30 years.

She said: “I think it’s marvellous. It gets everybody out, which is just lovely.”

The scheme was presented with a £300 cheque by Sussex Police from the force’s Police Property Act fund.

It has also, previously, received £5,000 from both The Roddick Foundation and Seedbed Christian Community Trust.

Marian Ayres, a Littlehampton town councillor, has been one of those involved in the project.

She said that Wick, and the Arun district as a whole, had the one of the largest populations of single, elderly people over the age of 65 in the county.

“Loneliness and isolation are health killers, really. They breed fear and just a lack of confidence to go outside.

“Arun has a quarter of all the over-65s living on their own in the whole of West Sussex, which shows the level of need for a project like this.

“We have some fantastic services for the elderly, locally, like the Tamarisk Centre. But the main issue is getting people out to it. It takes a great deal of confidence for someone to come out, when they’re alone.”

Marian hopes that the scheme will be rolled out across Littlehampton. However, she added there was potential for it to be adopted nationally, too.

For more details about where the café bus will be stopping next, e-mail marianayres.2@virgin.net