A group of local charities are working together to start a weekly cafe session to improve the mental and physical health of West Devon residents.

West Devon Community and Voluntary Service, Community Links, Okehampton Community and Recreation Association (OCRA), Devon Carers, Home Instead, Nesscare Group and the Filo Project have put together the project to provide social opportunities and provide mental and physical exercise.

OCRA general manager Ian Blythe, said: ‘The need for the sessions has been identified by the Okehampton Health and Wellbeing Alliance as a way of helping those who feel isolated, suffer with memory problems or live with long-term health conditions.

‘The charities hope that the new group may fill some of the void created by the COVID pandemic.’

The joint project draws together individual organisations that are providing their own sessions in different guises to create an additional session each week for all to enjoy and pool ideas, resources and expertise to benefit the community.

To kickstart the sessions there will be a community lunch at OCRA’s Pavilion in the Park on December 6 from 1pm.

A light lunch and cake will be on offer as well as refreshments, alongside activities to activate the brain and body.

Guest speakers will cover different topics and themes at the event and the charities will be chatting to attendees about what they would like to see within the sessions.

Organisers are currently discussing possible names for the new group but Memory Cafe has been posited as a potential title.

Tavistock already has a memory cafe which aims to support those living with dementia and provide advice and support to carers and family members of those with the memory disorder.

The group first started in 2006 aiming to provide people with dementia and their family and careers with the opportunity to meet others in a similar situation and enjoy fun activities together.

Okehampton’s Community Links currently runs a weekly social group each Thursday at Refresh Cafe for those who feel isolated and lonely.

It is linked to the community interest group’s befriending service which aims to provide lonely people with ‘friends’ to improve mental health and offer isolated individuals with practical support such as helping them do their weekly shop if they are otherwise unable to do so.

OCRA is an Okehampton-based charity, established in 1990, that runs many sporting events across the West Devon region in order to encourage residents to get more physically active.

It also runs holiday schemes for children and supports activities for those suffering with disabilities and other disorders.

It is based at the Pavilion in the Park in Simmons Park in Okehampton.

For more information,visit www.ocrasport.org.uk.checked