Alana House launches new community cafe

Alana House in Reading has launched a new community café to help women who attend the project to learn and practise valuable new skills.

Around 50 supporters, staff and volunteers from family support charity Parents And Children Together (PACT), which runs Alana House women’s community project, attended an event on Tuesday to help launch the café and celebrate Alana House’s ninth birthday.

The High Sheriff of Berkshire, Lucy Zeal, officially opened the new café and guests enjoyed coffee and cakes made by Alana House women.

Alana House, which has its main base in Reading but also covers West Berkshire, Bracknell, Wokingham, Maidenhead and Windsor, supports women who find themselves at a disadvantage by empowering them to take control of their lives, make informed decisions and improve their life chances. In 2018, 225 women accessed Alana House for groups, courses, drop-ins and one-to-one support.

The new community café, which will open initially on a Friday morning from 19th July for Alana House clients plus PACT staff, volunteers and invited guests, will offer home-baked cakes and treats as well as hot drinks served to a professional standard.

It will give women attending the project the chance to learn barista, waitressing and food and hygiene skills and to practise these in a friendly and non-judgemental space, helping to boost their confidence and enhance their employability prospects.

The project has been made possible by funding from the Ministry of Justice and support from local organisations, including Kingdom Coffee, which provided barista skills training, and IKEA, which donated a new kitchen plus furniture and accessories. A team from IKEA also spent two days at Alana House giving the drop-in area a fantastic makeover

Speaking at the launch event, Jan Fishwick OBE, Chief Executive of PACT, said: “Alana House has always been a safe and welcoming space for women, offering support for a wide variety of needs, but the transformation that has taken place here in such a short space of time, making this room so calm and special, is truly remarkable.

“Setting up a community café has been a dream of ours for many years. It brings a unique opportunity to learn and practise new skills, including health and safety, food hygiene, baking and barista skills. Impressive transformations like these don’t happen without lots of support and expertise, and I would like to thank all those many organisations who have helped us to get this off the ground.”

Any local business that could offer Alana House women a work trial, shadowing experience or a job please get in touch via Alana.house@pactcharity.org or 0118 9217640.