Collaborative breakfast at Coffee Lovers Cafe

The Lambeth Collaborative held its monthly breakfast in the vibrant, coffee infused, peer support environs of the Coffee Lovers Cafe on Wandsworth Road, Stockwell in March. The meeting emphasised the Collaborative’s ongoing pledge to broaden its scope to reach and empower people with enduring mental health issues to be resilient in the communities were they live thus supporting them to move on from traditional services and have control over their quality of life.

“People need to know who and what the Collaborative is and does,” says Lucy Ng who set up Coffee Lovers Cafe with partner (and ex peer supporter). last year. Not only does it dish up the best Moroccan cuisine and coffee in town, but the cafe is a place of support to “catch people who might be falling into poor mental health”, as well as a space to hire, run sessions or get information.

“We can can bridge and connect locals by holding events like the Collaborative breakfast, that took place here on 12th March,” emphasises Lucy. “There was lots of talking and enquires after the meeting ended.

“Locals see that the people at the top are working and connecting in a local area. That is front row seats for people. ”

Said Denis O’Rourke, Assistant Director Integrated Commissioning – Adult Mental Health
Lambeth CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group): “It was really good to be here this morning with our hosts Lucy and partner. It reminds us of the Collaborative’s ambition to take the “mental” out of mental health by better connecting with communities and the range of resources they use. Coffee Lovers fits the bill perfectly, a great café on the high street!”

These sentiments were echoed by David Singer, now a service designer with Innovation Unit – a smallish social enterprise made up of innovation and design-led thinkers that has a long-standing partnership with the Collaborative. “This morning’s session was about as open a breakfast meeting as one might imagine. At one point, a young mum with her toddler popped by for her morning coffee. As she waited to pay her bill, she got so interested in the Collaborative workshop taking place in the background, she left the café having offered herself up as a volunteer. It would be great to see more of this open-door blurring of boundaries between formal and informal care and I hope that as the Living Well Network and other projects become more visible, their intent and purpose will do so too.”

The presentation here is a work in progress that those committed to early morning breakfasts, design workshops and events are long familiar with (the Collaborative has been meeting like this since 2010). The Collaborative aims to blur the boundaries between those who receive and those who deliver services. Discussions constantly acknowledge the tension in stepping outside this remit; how do commissioners and providers deal with the inequalities at the table and how do those who have used the services and the ‘carers’ who have supported them, who often feel trapped or deserted in a complex process, believe that this new way of working (read buzz word co-production) could actually forge genuine and positive relationships? And… moving on, how might this massive culture change inspire and produce leaders in communities.
Karen Hooper

Click here for the presentation
Click here to read more about the inspiring journey of the Coffee Lovers Cafe

If you want to feed back with your views, get involved or know more about the Collaborative contact Natalie Sutherland at

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