Volunteer café provides an Oasis for 10 years to mental health

The Oasis Café, located at Stepping Hill Hospital in the Oasis Building, held its 10th anniversary celebration event on 27 November.

With non-alcoholic wine, a vanilla jam sponge and homemade sandwiches, patients, relatives and volunteers came together to mark ten years of service to the mental health community.

The cosmopolitan style café is designed to provide a welcome sanctuary for patients and relatives from the hustle and bustle of the hospital. Serving high quality, homemade food and refreshments, the café is also run by and for people recovering from mental health issues.

The café is a Community Interest Company run in partnership by a social enterprise company, Bubble Enterprises, Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust and Stockport Borough Council.

The majority of staff and volunteers have experienced mental health problems and the café provides an environment for people to build confidence, work as part of a team and meet new people which are an important part of social inclusion.

The café also encourages training, work experience and support to people who want to return to employment. Volunteers have the opportunity to learn new skills such as customer service, food preparation, food hygiene and financial management. 

Oasis Cafe 2

Leigh Wharton, Founding Director said: "Over the 10 years, we’ve directly employed 19 people at the cafe and given volunteering and training opportunities to over 80 volunteers, all of whom have had direct experience of mental health problems.

“The cafe has achieved its goals for assisting mental health recovery and we believe it is the finest cafe in the hospital. Oasis has already put over a million pounds back into the local economy, continues to buy many of its products from local suppliers and also exhibits and sells arts and crafts  from local artists. 

“We are hugely grateful to the partners, Pennine Care and Stockport Borough Council for their input at board level, and to the local hospital community for their support in visiting and buying their coffees and lunches."

Judith Crosby, Director of Service Development and Sustainability said: “It’s been a real privilege to be involved with the café from the start, up to the 10th anniversary.

“It has been amazing to witness the benefit it brings to customers, patients, volunteers, visitors, staff at the hospital and the wider community in terms of the goods its supplies.

“A massive thank you to everyone involved but particularly all the volunteers that keep the café running.”

Oasis Cafe

A volunteer from the café said: "Volunteering at the Oasis Cafe has given me a purpose and some where I feel welcome. 

“I enjoy being part of the friendly team and volunteering has given me the chance to build up my confidence so I can get my life back to normal.

“My family are also very grateful; my wife has said volunteering at the cafe has helped to rediscover the husband and father that I used to be before I became ill."