Part of our recent age-friendly work has included launching a toolkit for local businesses which has included top tips as well as local case studies of organisations already working hard to become age-friendly.
I believe in using business to make communities more vibrant, social places, and am really happy that so many community groups and local organisations feel they can use this space for their social activities. We host the Bedminster Social Club’s ‘coffee and chat’ group twice weekly, as well as the fortnightly over 55s computer café. Round the corner is Monica Wills House Retirement Village, and they hold a speed dating event here every few months which is always a special evening.
Having such a personable relationship with our regular customers makes running the business much more enjoyable, and the connection we’ve made with the retirement village, local schools, and volunteers gives the place a strong community feel and makes our customer base loyal.
Although I want to serve as many customers as possible, it’s more important that the café is comfortable and spacious. As so many of our customers are wheelchair users, I’ve reduced the number of chairs and increased the space between tables so that it is more accessible for them. Our toilet is fully accessible. We’re also on the BS3 toilet map, which is a list of businesses that are happy for people to pop in and use the facilities without the obligation to spend money.
I’m proud to be part of the local Business Improvement District, which is doing great work to encourage the regeneration of this street and tackle problems such as security and parking. The advice I’d give to other business owners who want to better serve their communities would be to contact places such as local schools, care homes or community centres and offer to make donations to raffles or to host events. This then makes it more likely that local voluntary groups will get in touch with you to see if you can support the hosting of social events. Seeing people who usually spend most of their time alone form new friendships under this roof is wonderful, and I’m glad to be able to offer people so much more than good food and coffee.