Connect over coffee at a ‘wellbeing café’ in Poole

27th October 2022

Adults who are struggling with their mental health, addictions and daily wellbeing can now talk through their issues and find solutions over a fortnightly cup of coffee in Poole.

Coffee Connection – a drop-in support hub at Serenitea Café on Ashley Road – is run jointly by Dorset HealthCare’s Poole Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) and Dorset’s Essential Drug & Alcohol Services (EDAS).

The Thursday evening sessions take the form of a ‘talk and share’ supper group, hosted by a qualified therapist who provides expert input, with discussions and a range of activities designed to support self-care. There are also opportunities to hear from speakers and undertake training which can lead to practical qualifications.

The project was the brainchild of CMHT Leader Lulu Dajani and Michele Lyall, Deputy Chief Executive at EDAS. And it became a reality after earning funding support through Dorset HealthCare’s annual staff innovation competition, Dragons’ Den.

Lulu said:

“Since we started Coffee Connection in the spring, it has already benefited and motivated many adults in Poole who are experiencing problems with mental health.

“Daily wellbeing has improved for those who struggle to prioritise things and can end up feeling overwhelmed. Some have signed up to other courses about health and wellbeing and mixing with other members of the community, while others completed training to develop their sense of purpose and self-confidence. There is something for everyone.”

Participants have not only gained confidence, made new friends and reduced their social isolation, but some have joined the EDAS training programme and gained accredited qualifications. 

Eight people have achieved a Level 2 Understanding Mental Wellbeing qualification, and seven others a Level 2 Healthy Living Award. Three attendees now volunteer for EDAS, and another has a job interview at a local retailer.

People also report increased physical wellbeing, with many now enjoying food again – cooking from scratch and cutting out processed foods – and undertaking daily exercise. 

Claudine Rogers started attending Coffee Connection as she was struggling with her mental health. She said:

“Everybody comes to the café for different reasons, but we all understand each other. I really enjoy it as it gets me out the house, I can undertake courses and get qualifications, and it’s just a great, friendly and non-judgemental place to come.”

Claudine explains more about how Coffee Connection has supported her in this short video clip

Dr Mindy Bartlett, Chief Executive at Essential Drug & Alcohol Services, added:

“Coffee Connection focuses on wellness rather than illness and delivers community activities and guest speaker workshops. There are also opportunities for attendees to engage in accredited and non-accredited training and workshops.

“The project provides a safe place to support and empower service users. Events and groups are hosted to support people to recover, eat, support and talk, reflecting the different ways to be more connected in our community.”

Adults under the care of the Poole CMHT can opt to attend Coffee Connection. Anyone interested who is not under mental health care already can book a place via EDAS by calling 01202 733322 or emailing

Visit to find out more information on the project.

Watch a short video clip with Lulu, below, to hear more about the support hub and how it can help local people.

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