SEVERAL new initiatives are being launched by a church congregation who hope to prevent social isolation and loneliness in Radcliffe.

Radcliffe United Reformed Church (URC) is preparing to launch its new weekly café to create space for people to enjoy food and find a support network.

The Listening Ear Community Café has been born out of a former weekly social eating group which promoted "togetherness and connection."

Plans for the weekly café have taken a huge leap forward due to a successful National Lottery grant application of £10,000 towards preventing social isolation and loneliness.

Other plans include the launch of a new Job Club to help people with CV writing, confidence building and job searching, as well as providing volunteering opportunities to people interested in working in a kitchen or café environment.

Nigel Adkinson, minister of Radcliffe URC, said: "We are very proud of Listening Ear and hope that the café will be a welcoming place for people in Radcliffe to meet, eat, connect and support each other and be a place of reflection and emotional and spiritual health and wellbeing.

"We are delighted that the National Lottery Community Fund has recognised our work in this way."

About 20 members of the church have regularly been meeting together to make fresh soup and bread, and eat together, as part of a group founded by minister Nigel Adkinson.

The new café, which is scheduled to launch at the Blackburn Street church next month, will be built on this same ethos, offering a low cost, healthy menu with breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea options.

Members of the church — a team of peer listeners — will also be on hand to offer a listening ear to people who are worried or who want to speak with someone in confidence. They will also signpost visitors to other support services where necessary.

Bury Council Health Trainers and staff from BEATS — an exercise referral scheme for people with a recurring illness or medical condition — will use the church hall when the café is open to enable a link between healthy cooking, food and lifestyle choices.

Cllr Rhyse Cathcart, who represents Radcliffe East ward, said: "Loneliness is one of the greatest causes of mental health problems in both young and older people.

"Social isolation has been linked to many public health illnesses and this community café will offer a fantastic service to the people of Radcliffe who feel that they have no one.

"The café will create a place where people to come and meet people who want to have a chat and offer support, and friendship and fellowship."

Visitors will be able to access the café on Tuesdays between 9.30am and 3.30am.

A launch event will be held on Tuesday, July 2, when Bury Council leader, Cllr Rishi Shori, will give a short speech at 11.30am. The café will be open to members of the public from 9.30am.