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Roads to recovery boosted by community café

Residents recovering from drug and alcohol-related problems will be giving up their time to support a new community café project.

They will be volunteering from 11am to 3pm on Wednesdays at The Cornerstone, in Canterbury Road, Leyton, and from 1pm to 5pm on Fridays at The Hornbeam Centre, in Hoe Street, Walthamstow, as part of Café Life.

The project encourages local people to visit the cafés to take part in social activities including arts and crafts, board games, quizzes and competitions, while relaxing with a hot drink and scrumptious snack.

The volunteers, all of whom have been helped to turn their lives around with support from the Council’s alcohol and drug services provider Lifeline Waltham Forest, will run each of the Café Life sessions.

The project will be officially launched at 12pm on Wednesday 27 January at The Cornerstone.

Sabbir Ahmed, a Peer Support and Activities Coordinator at Lifeline Waltham Forest, said: “All of the volunteers are in recovery themselves and for some it is about giving something back and helping others while for others they want to keep themselves busy and maintain their recovery.

“One of our volunteers said that addiction had cost her many things over the years and now she feels that her life is getting back on track. This project is a way of building up her confidence and self-esteem to eventually move into some form of paid employment – the fact that she can potentially help others really appeals to her.”

The Café Life project was made possible after Lifeline Waltham Forest and the Council’s Public Health team proactively bid for, and successfully secured, funding from Public Health England to pay for a network of recovery cafés in the borough.

Jean Pender, Lifeline Waltham Forest Service Manager, said: “The Café Life project is an exciting and innovative venture which Lifeline fully supports – and the hope is that current and ex-service users will embrace it.

“As the provider of drug and alcohol services in Waltham Forest, we will be working closely with the network of recovery cafés to help our service users achieve a level of stability and once their treatment is complete they can be encouraged to join the volunteer team at the café to help maintain their recovery.

“The project can also help to reduce substance/alcohol misuse in Waltham Forest by providing information, advice and guidance to those accessing the café and signposting them to our service. I hope that the public, our partners and other stakeholders in the borough will support this venture and help make it a success.”

Cllr Ahsan Khan, Waltham Forest Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Café Life promises to give current and former service users a really positive outlet as they continue along their roads to recovery – and I would encourage the wider community to get behind the project.

“Because Café Life is open to any resident wanting to pay a visit, we hope it will play a big role helping to break down barriers and challenge stereotypes of those recovering from alcohol or substance misuse.”

For more information on the support you can receive from Lifeline Waltham Forest, visit

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