Café serves up support for charities

Laura Lashmar (left) and Sophy Hallam of the Third Sector Cafe
Laura Lashmar (left) and Sophy Hallam of the Third Sector Cafe
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A CAFE with a difference is helping to sustain vital voluntary and charity groups across Sheffield.

The Third Sector Café, run by businesswomen Sophy Hallam and Laura Lashmar, takes over the Harland Café in John Street once a month to help boost struggling organisations. And its menu of discussions, bulletins – and the odd cup of coffee – is providing much-valued support.

“The voluntary and charitable sector plays an essential role through support to many thousands of the city’s most vulnerable individuals and families,” says Laura.

“But times are hard, and national predictions suggest that many charities will be forced to close in 2013. We want to do more to help those with a chance to survive, to pull through and sustain the valuable work they do in our city.”

Their innovative solution was the Third Sector Café, which has already reached more than 250 local charity workers and volunteers.

“Feedback suggests people learn as much from hearing about the experiences of others, as they do from the experts,” says Laura. “They particularly appreciate the opportunity to make helpful links with people from other charities facing similar issues.”

One local charity director said: “I find the Third Sector Café really useful – less intimidating than other forums I’ve been to, with an informal atmosphere. The topics have been really relevant to small and medium charities… with input from experts and informal activities which enable people to learn from each other”.

Another regular café-goer added: “It’s a chance for me to learn and gain valuable insight into fundraising in Sheffield. The relaxed and friendly atmosphere makes it the perfect place to network.”

The next Café meeting takes place today, 10am-12 noon, when Dr Jeanne Hardacre will guide a discussion on Leadership in Difficult Times.

Places are free, but must be booked in advance. For details of future sessions see Cadence Works

Lesley Draper