Transformed local pub opens doors to public

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On Saturday 23rd April, the recently renovated Royal Oak pub in Ipswich officially opened its doors to the public, revealing ‘The Oak Café’, a new, alcohol free community venue.

The building on Felixstowe Road is part of our catalogue of properties, and was leased out to Simon Aalders, Director of The Oak Café,in September 2015. The space has since been transformed in to a café and music venue on the ground floor and short-stay accommodation on the first floor, to support those recovering from addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping and gaming.

We have worked with Simon previously on the successful Reducing the Strength campaign in his role at Suffolk County Council, which aimed to remove cheap, super-strength alcohol from Ipswich stores to help combat the number of street drinkers in the town. The opportunity to work together again came about as a result of Simon’s vision to create a community hub where people of all ages could gain the support, skills and confidence to recover from addiction.

The café area has space for arts, music and local groups to hire and use. Along with counselling and therapy rooms, there is also space to accommodate six people upstairs and will be offered for a period of up to 12 weeks for people in need, or for those who are returning to Ipswich after getting help elsewhere.

Simon Aalders, who has had more than 25 years of experience working with and running services that treat addiction, said; “So many people have helped us to renovate the old Royal Oak and start its exciting new journey as an alcohol free café and community venue. The East of England Co-op has been there for us every step of the way – from leasing the building to providing support with food waste, electrical equipment and security.

“We want the café to be a comfortable, relaxed and safe space for people to chat and enjoy themselves, and we have even created a child friendly area for families to relax and play in. We are really pleased to be opening our doors to the public - it is the culmination of a lot of hard work and we look forward to welcoming everyone to the cafe for some great coffee, tea, sandwiches and cakes.”

Nick Denny, Joint Chief Executive at the East of England Co-op said; “I am so impressed with the hard work and dedication that Simon and his team have put in to the project. The building has been completely transformed and is now a light, welcoming and warm space for people to enjoy.

“We are very happy to have been able to help Simon through his journey, directly giving back to the community through his innovative idea. To be able to contribute to and support a cause that supports people when they need it most is something we feel passionately about at the East of England Co-op.”

The Oak Café will be open from 9am to 4pm on Saturday 23 May, inviting all members of the public to pop in and explore the new venue. For more information, call Simon Aalders on  07470 166328 or email simon.aalders@recoveryhubipswich.com.