Story by Carrie Hedderwick & Nelia Gea Cayuela | Photos by Nelia Gea Cayuela
On 13th April, Messenger volunteers visited Pakistan Advice and Community Association (PACA) to check out the new initiative – the Springboard Social Café, funded through the Burngreave Community Wellbeing Programme in partnership with the Council and SOAR.
The goal of the Springboard Cafe is to provide a social space for women who need help and encouragement to improve their lives, to help relieve any stress or anxiety and to reduce feelings of isolation. We talked to Rhona from PACA, and to Teresa from Sheffield MIND, who coordinate the Springboard sessions which take place twice a month; first at PACA and the second session at Aspiring Communities Together (ACT) on Earl Marshal Road. Rhona and Teresa very kindly, explained the structure and the development of activities carried out throughout the day.
The sessions start at 10am with relaxation exercises for about ten minutes – this sometimes includes a head massage.
Then, the women have time to get involved in a range of art and craft work – such as decorative pattern-making or making aromatic lavender sachets – these were what had been done that particular morning, but the women themselves decide what they would like to do from one session to the next. Sometimes there is a live link to a Pakistani TV chat show covering women’s issues and interests, which the women at the Café can then discuss amongst themselves.
Some of the women taking part bake, and at lunch time they all enjoy delicious homemade food cooked by other volunteers. This is the time to relax and talk with friends.
After the meal, the women started a chairobics activity, following a TV instruction programme and led by the dynamic Safina from SOAR. All the participants were very energetic and laughed endlessly. The Café session usually finishes around 3pm.
In short, this social space enables the women participants to be active in both body and mind, and as such, makes for a very good holistic approach to health. There are four Springboard Cafes across the city but some of them are open to men as well as women. However, in Fir Vale, the women only sessions seem to be the right format at present. PACA does provide other training courses and events and women are encouraged to link in to these.
PACA also provides a comprehensive advice service, including benefits, immigration, employment, housing and others topics. Talking to Gulnaz the long time coordinator, we were told that PACA is going to change the name to Firvale Community Hub in a few weeks, to better reflect the diverse communities who use the services. This is all very encouraging.
Springboard Social Café is held fortnightly on Thursdays, 10am–4pm. Next sessions are:
Thursday 11th May and 8th June at Pakistani Advice and Community Association
Thursday 27th April, 25th May and 22nd June at ACT Firvale Centre