Sanctuary Cafe

The Synergy Centre, in partnership with Brighton Action for Happiness,  are proposing to run a day time and evening Sanctuary Café which will provide a safe space for a number of people and groups to engage in a process of recovery from difficulty or disadvantage. The aim of the Sanctuary Cafe is to create a community based social enterprise for people engaging in a recovery process, be that from substance misuse, process addiction or any other mental health condition.

Sanctuary Cafe

The Sanctuary Cafe project has a few key objectives :

The first is to create a vibrant social enterprise that appeals to the general public as well as the recovery community, as this is needed for social integration/re- integration within the community. The project will offer a safe friendly space to meet, eat drink and socialise with an absence of alcohol and this will help to achieve a wide range of health education outcomes.

The project will also create education, training and employment opportunities (ETE) through the operation of the business – a bar selling soft drinks, a tapas Café and sandwich operation and, eventually, a full restaurant operation. These will offer developmental opportunities, specifically for people in recovery services referred by existing recovery providers when they are deemed to be ready for the programme. They will be employed alongside existing staff to increase social norming values and positive attitudes to work.

The project will operate a transitional model, meaning that people are assessed, taken on via volunteering, supported and given the skills and training they need to succeed and gain credible experience on a CV and then are supported into gaining employment internally and externally within the catering or other industries. People can also be supported to start up their own social enterprises or a self- employment route if preferred.

This project addresses the overarching principles of recovery through the creation of a venue where people can have positive social benefits and interactions, improving their mental health, reducing isolation and contributing to a sense of self-worth and wellbeing. The venue will be free from temptation, allowing people to relax at a time when they may usually be vulnerable.

Although the project is focused on supporting people’s recovery and increasing employment and training opportunities for this group, it will also be open to the general public. This will help tackle the stigma that exists around people who are recovering from a variety of mental health issues, including substance misuse and process addiction, by showing real life examples of positive change.

The project will re-integrate people back into the local community and labour market creating healthier, economically active and contributing citizens. A combination of these outcomes could have a transformative effect on the quality of life and ensuring that service users become and remain free from dysfunctional coping strategies & dependence.

The Dry Bar will in part replicate the success of the ‘Fork in the Road’ project in Middlesborough, which was supported by a grant of £250k from Public Health England and additional funds from Middlesbrough Council’s Public Health and Wellbeing Department. The fundraiser who worked on the Fork in the Road project is on the team of professionals that will develop the concept in B&H. The project is also inspired by The Brink in Liverpool and The Sobar in Nottingham.


The Sanctary Cafe  will also have a prominent ‘Happiness’ branding by virtue of the partnership with Action for Happiness, highlighting how helping others less fortunate than ourselves can generate valuable happiness and wellbeing benefits.


Wellbeing-Network-Logos1We also envisage there being a wider Health and Wellbeing dimension to the Cafe, in partnership with the various partners and individuals in the Synergy Wellbeing Network.


The Sanctuary Cafe will also provide a safe space  / drop in for members of the local rough sleeping community as part of the Roughsleepers Advocacy Project run by the Synergy Centre in partnership with homeless charity St Mungos.