New community café aims to offer a break from coronavirus misery

Andie Milne (pictured) and Brian Griffin are behind The Sidmouth Oasis, at the Dissenters’ Hall, in

Andie Milne (pictured) and Brian Griffin are behind The Sidmouth Oasis, at the Dissenters’ Hall, in Sidmouth, Picture: Andie Milne/Simon Horn - Credit: Picture: Andie Milne/Simon Horn

A weekly coffee and chat session designed to ‘nourish the spirits’ is starting up in Sidmouth.

The Oasis café will be held every Wednesday lunchtime at the Dissenters’ Hall, starting on September 30, and aims to give people a break from the stresses and miseries of Covid-19.

There will be free tea, coffee and biscuits, friendly volunteers to talk to, and the chance to take part in creative activities - all with social distancing and Covid-secure procedures in place.

The café has been set up by the former co-ordinator of the Sid Valley Food Bank, Andie Milne, along with food bank volunteer Brian Griffin and others who helped with the service during lockdown.

Launching the project, they said: “Whilst the aim of the Sidmouth Foodbank is to nourish the body, the aim of The Sidmouth Oasis is to nourish the spirits.

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“There is great concern about the mental wellbeing of Sidmouth individuals and families who are finding the pressures of Covid to be an almost insuperable burden.

“You will certainly be aware of the chaos this condition is inflicting on the state of business, health, education and the daily lives of individuals.

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“People and families are being driven to desperation with little ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.

“As a result, a group of us has now decided to take steps to provide an ‘Oasis’ in Sidmouth, intended to give people some small degree of relief.

“This will take the form of a Covid-safe drop-in café, where humour, creative activities and DIY music will predominate, with the aim of allowing people to leave their problems behind and raise their spirits, if only for a short while.

“We – all volunteers – are gladly giving our time and effort to help those whose lives have been severely impacted by the terror of the present, and a visceral fear of the future.”

The team are appealing for donations to help with the rent of the room and the cost of tea, coffee and biscuits, amounting to £18 per session.

The café is for adults only, and people are being asked not to bring children, and to wear a face covering.

It will be open from 12.45pm until 2.15pm every Wednesday.

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