Stephen’s Story

I first attended the Free Café during a difficult time in my relationship with my partner. I used the cafe as a space to come and meet my children. I didn’t know a lot about the project at the time, except that it was a free place to meet. My partner also received support from Freedom during this difficult time. As our relationship strengthened, we continued to use the cafe and access support. The project was a great help when our benefits were stopped as they provided us with food parcels and money for gas/electric. We couldn’t understand why people would want to help us, so we started volunteering in the café to ‘give back’. As we built relationships with volunteers I began to open up more and share about my inability to read. One of the volunteers, Jeanette, was challenged by my issue and decided to set up a one to one support group to help people to read as part of Freedom. Since I became a member of the reading group I have learned to read and fill in forms. This has been an amazing change for me as I now have more independence and will be able to find part-time work. The project has also supported us in many other ways including helping with family and financial issues. I now volunteer two days a week in the charity shop and find the role very fulfilling.

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