Mother and daughter aim to help Lochaber Thrive
A FORT WILLIAM mother and daughter team are ‘ thriving’ for success with their new health and well-being hub.
Izzy Valenti and daughter Katy Macdonald’s new venture, Thrive in Lochaber, is a new community resource that aims to promote health and well-being in the area.
Operating from Katy and her husband’s Thai restaurant Sugar and Spice, Thrive will be a drop-in point for members of the community who feel isolated or find it difficult to socialise.
Katy and her husband moved to Scotland five years ago to open Sugar and Spice, which her husband runs in the evenings.
The idea for Thrive came about in February after Katy began brain-storming about what the restaurant could be used for during the day.
Currently Katy works at Lochaber college with students who have additional support needs and, with both Katy and her mum having backgrounds in health and social care, the idea was something they both feel passionate about.
Speaking to The Oban Times, Izzy said: ‘There is an obvious gap in relation to a high street drop-in venue for people who are socially isolated.
‘Our idea for Thrive is still formulating, but what we want to be is a health and well-being cafe that is accessed by individual community groups, with Katy and I also running groups and workshops here for people.
‘ We are currently running a class for young adults with disabilities who just want to hang out with their friends, but often find it difficult.’
Izzy added: ‘We are quite unusual because we want to be constantly evolving to the needs of the community.’
Katy continued: ‘We want to give people a social and com- munity presence and design this service according to what people are telling us they need.’
In addition to working with young adults, they hope to run stress management workshops for carers, and support groups for young mums.
‘This is a space for parents or carers to come in and talk to one another about any worries or difficulties,’ said Katy.
As a young mother herself, Katy said: ‘Being a young mum can be very isolating. We want somewhere for young mums to come together. For example, a group of parents could put on a coffee morning where they can socialise and meet people.’
Katy said they are also looking to start a breastfeeding support groups if there is a need.
At the heart of their idea is the importance of well-being, and for both Katy and Izzy socialising is vital.
‘Some people find it difficult to go out and socialise with friends, as they are intimidated by large groups of people, but we want to normalise that and make it accessible for everyone.’
Izzy stresses: ‘ We want it to be a centre where we can bring people together.’
One idea that has been brought to Katy by students at the college is for a dinner club, where 10 people come to café, five will cook, while the other five set the tables.
Katy hopes that this will enable youngsters to work on life skills such as cooking and other soft abilities.
Thrive is also encouraging people in the community who have a skill and want to share it with others, to get involved.
Izzy told The Oban Times: ‘We have had a fantastic response to this initiative.
‘The carers and families we have spoken to are so excited by this idea, and other professionals within our network have given us lots of encouragement.’
Thrive is in the process of becoming a social enterprise, and is still looking for funding to ensure its development.
Find Thrive in Lochaber on Facebook, or email thrive.café@hotmail.com to get involved.
Katy Macdonald and her mum Izzy Valenti plan to host groups and workshops at Sugar and Spice restaurant.