The café that serves up coffee, cakes and mental wellbeing
19 October 2017 | North East England
How two women are bringing mental wellness into the community.
Cloud 9 Wellbeing was founded in 2016 by Susan and Rachel. “When we got together as a couple we wanted to have our own business,” says Rachel. “But we knew that whatever we were going to do, we wanted to be helping people. And that’s when we really got into the mental health side of things.”
Susan adds: “We’ve both had our own things in life – depression, anxiety, cyclothymia (where people experience both depressive and hypomanic phases). We decided that we wanted to create something to help our own lives, which would benefit the community too.”
The idea of a café built around wellbeing was born, where a lovely cup of coffee is just the start. It’s never just about a coffee; sometimes a hug or a chance to let off some steam is why people keep coming back.
People come in and cry all the time. They’ll say, ‘I had to get up this morning and come here, and I don’t even know why.’ And then they’ll let it all out.
Another important aspect of Cloud 9 Wellbeing’s approach to positive mental health is meditation and relaxation classes, run from a studio on the other side of the café. Customers can also come in for all-day sessions to sample different types of meditation and see what works best for them. Luckily, word-of-mouth has played a big part in the success of the café. Many customers have heard about it through chatting to friends, neighbours and venturing into the community, and social media, too, has helped spread the news around the innovative venture.
When author and comedian Ruby Wax, a mental health campaigner and activist, heard about the café in North Shields she had to pay them a visit.
Ruby asked Susan and Rachel how the community has responded to their café, and it’s clear the community feels passionate about this project too. It’s been popular with people of all ages who are learning about their mental health, and everyone is behind it.
Sometimes there will be two people in the café, sometimes 20, but what’s great is that people feel like they can come in on their own and just talk about things.
It’s clear just how passionate Susan and Rachel are about their café, no more so than when you learn how they got the venture off the ground. “We funded the café ourselves, we put everything on the line,” says Rachel. Susan adds, “I re-mortgaged the house to make this work, because I’ve never felt so in love with something – apart from my children!”
When Ruby asks whether they’re going to open any more cafés, the answer is an emphatic ‘yes’. “We’d love to open more cafés,” says Susan. “It makes us feel good too, so it’s a win-win.”
It seems the duo has achieved a whole lot with their unassuming North Shields café. “We get a lot of people coming to us and finding what they need. You don’t just get a cup of coffee, you get much more.”