A church in Scarborough has opened a community café with a difference to promote mental and emotional wellbeing for adults.

In Newby, St Mark’s Church opened its Renew 116 café towards the end of August. It has a simple message that it is a safe, quiet shared place to visit, where it’s ‘OK not to be OK.’

About 40 Churches in the UK are running similar cafes under the Renew Wellbeing charity umbrella, which started in Nottingham in 2015. Visitors share hobbies and skills in a welcoming space.

‘Shena Moray, who is to become our new vicar, has been wanting to do this for a while,’ said churchwarden Trevor King. ‘With the lifting of the restrictions earlier in the summer, we felt now was the right time to start.’

The venture is in keeping with the church’s values of helping people with their mental and emotional health and their spiritual wellbeing, said Mr King.

Each Wednesday, from 1-3 pm, volunteers’ welcome cafegoers. There are opportunities to share in crafts and hobbies of people’s choosing or those the café provides.

Mr King said: ‘Whatever people do to help them relax, whether it’s knitting, crosswords, drawing, writing, it does not matter so long as it good for their wellbeing.’

Visitors enjoy a cuppa and cake and biscuits. The quiet Chapel is set aside as a space for silence and contemplation.

Mr King stressed that the café is open to all with a few simple guidelines to enjoy a peaceful communal space.

The pandemic highlighted issues of isolation and loneliness, with a rise in numbers of people reporting problems with their mental health. The café responds to the ‘trauma of the last 18 months,’ says Mr King. He believes it is an example of how communities can help themselves.

He said: ‘We work on three simple principles: being present, being prayerful and being in a partnership.

‘The café is a safe and welcoming space for people where we are not trying to sort out problems, however, we will listen and, if needed, signpost people to mental health and other local services.

‘People can come along and feel respected, enjoy their time with others, and we hope it will contribute to their wellbeing.’

The Sirius Minerals Foundation, the charitable arm of Sirius Foundation, has provided a grant to support the venture in line with other community initiatives along the northeast Yorkshire coast and Ryedale.

‘We’re so grateful for what their grant has allowed us to do,’ said Mr King. ‘Hopefully, many people in our community will benefit from their generosity.’

The café space is at the back of the church and uses a kitchen built last year. The church is on the corner of Green Lane and Coldyhill Lane, Newby.

Those interested in going to the café can find out more about it by ringing (01723) 376834.