Introducing the BEAM Café, a new community-led mental health café making a difference in Boston

27th June 2022

A group of people who attend the BEAM Cafe, inside the Stump in Boston

The BEAM café, a joint venture by St Barnabas Hospice, the Parish of Boston and the Boston Neighbourhood team is looking for new volunteers to help support local people struggling with their mental health.

The group, called the BEAM Café (Building Engagement Around Mental health), meets every Tuesday afternoon from 12pm to 3pm and Wednesday evening from 4pm to 7pm at St Botolph’s Church Boston (The Stump). This group offers people a safe space for anyone, over the age of 18, who is experiencing challenges with their mental health and wellbeing.

The BEAM Café first opened on Tuesday 1st February and has so far supported dozens of local people, both who attend the café regularly or who have attended as a one-off. The BEAM Café is there for any individual that could benefit from a listening ear, peer support and links to other groups or services if this is appropriate.

The BEAM Café is not clinically-led, but those who run the café help support people to access other services such as a mental health practitioner, Steps2Change or other support within the community through various community groups and activities.  The sessions are primarily targeted towards but not limited to the people of Boston and the local area.

Michael, who lives in the Boston area, first started to attend the café in March after struggling with his mental health. Michael said: “I have been suffering with my mental health for many years, and it became more affected after my wife passed away three years ago. Having tried a range of methods and therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, I feel like the BEAM café has helped me with my mental health the most. Heidi and the volunteers are incredible at what they do. They are so compassionate, supportive and helpful; they care about everyone they talk to and have made a huge difference to the lives of not just myself but everyone who uses the groups. To me, the BEAM café is like a beam of light when you need it most.”

The Café is organised and run primarily by Heidi Freeman, Community Connector at St Barnabas, with the help of local volunteers and support practitioners. Heidi said:

“The project is a collaboration between St Barnabas, Boston Neighbourhood Team and the Parish of Boston. There is also a strong partnership working with other services such as Social Prescribing, Food Bank and many more who support people to access or refer to the café. During each session, I check in with the people coming along and explore with them if there’s anything that could be done differently. I think it’s vital to have participation feedback and to develop the project with the community.

“So far we have only been able to open the café up to local people on a Tuesday afternoon and a Wednesday night in the town of Boston. Starting on 11th July, we will be adding a new session every Monday afternoon from 1pm to 3pm at The Black Sluice café, which we are really looking forward to. I would like to extend the project and offer BEAM sessions in different settings on other days and evenings. I hope the next step is opening a BEAM on a Friday evening in Boston and a daytime in Wyberton or Kirton area.

“To grow the BEAM café and make it a success and sustainable, we need the help from local people who will be willing to volunteer to help run the sessions. The non-clinical and personal space that the café offers really does make a huge difference to people’s lives”.

For further details about the BEAM Café, and to register your interest in volunteering, please contact Heidi Freeman on 07833 786816 or ‘heidi.freeman@stbarnabashospice.co.uk

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