A cafe that brings together older members of the community and school children with additional support needs has won this year’s Church of Scotland Moderator’s Prize.
Set up as a pilot project between Deanburn Primary School and Bo’ness Old Kirk in May 2018, Café Connect became a permanent weekly date in both the school and church calendars last August.
The aim of the cafe is to provide Enhanced Provision pupils with a way to develop vital life skills and practice their social skills while offering café goers a way to combat isolation and loneliness.
Rev Amanda MacQuarrie, minister of Bo’ness Old Kirk and Deanburn’s school chaplain, said the café helped “forge friendships across the generations”.
She said: “For all who come along it seems to be a highlight in their week. For me, it’s humbling to see the joy on the faces of both the children and the adults who come together, genuine delight at being in one another’s company.”
Every week Enhanced Provision P1 to P7 pupils travel to the church to help set up the café, make and serve food and talk about their school day before playing games, paint and make arts and crafts, sing songs and complete jigsaws with café regulars.
The success of the café saw the partnership scoop the Moderator’s Prize 2019, with pupils travelling to Edinburgh on May 22nd to receive their certificate and cheque for £500. The prize money is set to be invested in resources that will support those involved in the café.
Lois Cassidy, Head Teacher, Deanburn Primary School, said she was “absolutely delighted” that Café Connect had won the prize.
She said: “Our children have grown in confidence and have built really positive relationships with their friends at Café Connect. They are learning about the importance of sharing and caring for each other and how to be respectful as they work together and engage with older people. This, in turn, impacts on their abilities to build positive relationships within school. Café Connect is a joyful thing and we are all very proud of it.”
Ms Cassidy added that the school, which is working to becoming a dementia friendly school, was also looking for ways to:
- Develop and expand Café Connect so that more pupils could get involved.
- Invite older members of the café into the school to build on and use their skills for the benefit of all its pupils.
- Image one: Pupils and regulars at Cafe Connect get messy with arts and crafts
- Image two: Rt Rev Colin Sinclair (centre) with Deanburn Primary School pupils (left to right): Zac Adam, Jack Mcintyre, Kayden White, Robbie Stewart, Kayden Turner, Holly McLean and Kirsten Lee.