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Coffee shop hoping to reach teens in crisis with new ‘safe space’ venture | Durham Freemasons

LilyAnne’s Coffee Bar has had a staggering 556 people on the point of crisis reach out to it so far this year

A coffee shop in Hartlepool offers so much more than what’s on the menu – it provides a safe space for people to talk.

LilyAnne’s Coffee Bar may look and feel like any much-loved high street venue, but it was set up as a community venture to provide people with friendship and understanding when they are facing mental ill health, social isolation or loneliness.

Now, because of the rise in suicides among young people, the Victoria Road outlet is launching a We Listen group for young people over the age of 16 to go along and feel at ease talking about their problems.

As part of the launch, organisers have placed 300 special cards around the town featuring codes that young people can scan to get more help and advice about mental health issues, within four days, 55 of the cards had been activated.

Trevor Sherwood, who is in charge of project development at the cafe, said the new social group will launch next month.

He said: “We are looking to create a safe place where young people over the age of 16 can go and talk and be listened to, when it comes to mental health groups there are quite a few but they are for over 18s only”.

However, LilyAnne’s felt something needed to be offered to people a bit younger, who are at risk of taking their own lives, a lot of young people don’t realise they are in crisis with their mental health and a lot of them don’t want to burden family and friends with their issues. Sometimes they don’t realise they can go to the doctor for help and they just don’t know where to turn.

He said: “In four days 55 people have scanned the code on the cards and five have made contact with the coffee shop, which is great. If 55 people have scanned them, even if it is just out of curiosity, it means 55 people now have more information so they can support others.”

Trevor said: “We are finding a lot of young men, aged between 16 and 21, are just not coming forward with their problems. I think there’s a lot of stigma and they think of the old-fashioned idea they should man-up. We want them to realise real men talk rather than bottling everything up.”

LilyAnne’s is a not-for-profit community interest company, and already this year it has had a staggering 556 people on the point of crisis reach out to it.

The idea behind the venture is that anyone can enjoy a nice coffee, with family, friends or on their own, with the added benefit of being able to tap into the support on offer. The aim is to reduce the feelings arising from social isolation and loneliness while creating companionship.

Volunteers and staff believe being better connected to others improves well-being and the best way to reduce troubling feelings and thoughts is by being around people.

Trevor, who is launching the We Listen venture with Alexander Gray, said they already have ten volunteers in place who want to help out and support young people.

For more information visit   here .

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