Mother and daugh­ter aim to help Lochaber Thrive

The Oban Times - - News - EL­LIE FORBES eforbes@oban­

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@hot­ to get in­volved.

Katy Mac­don­ald and her mum Izzy Valenti plan to host groups and workshops at Sugar and Spice restau­rant.

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