Teas on Tour to tackle loneliness

A health and social care student from New College Durham has been inspired to open an afternoon tea business to tackle isolation and loneliness.

39-year-old Rachael Mawston from Newton Aycliffe was inspired to make a difference after reading a report on isolation and loneliness as part of her Foundation Degree in Applied Health and Social Care at New College Durham.

Rachael set up a catering business called Orange Cake, with her mum and sister, and is offering affordable afternoon teas at community venues to help bring people together.

Rachael said: “We saw there was a need and thought we could use what we’ve got to see if that could make a difference to people.  My Mum is an amazing baker so we came up with the idea of doing afternoon teas.  We offer a range of traditional baked goods of a high quality that you would expect your grandmother to make for you.”

At the Teas on Tour events, guests pay only £5 to spend two hours socialising and tucking into homemade cakes, sandwiches and scones.

The first event took place at Aycliffe Village hall and was attended by 35 people aged 20 to 80.  Rachael said about the event: “It was brilliant!  There was no seating arrangement and some people came on their own and ended up chatting and swapping numbers. It really helped to bridge the generation gap too with older people talking to the younger generation.”

A second event recently took place at Middridge Village Hall and was a sell out with 60 guests.

Jo Thomas, Rachael’s Health and Social Care lecturer at New College Durham, said: “Rachael is a committed and hard-working student. We were thrilled to hear about her new business venture, which is making a real difference to people’s lives in her local community.  We wish her every success for the future.”

Orange Cake, which has been running for a few months, hopes to expand the venture in the long-term by hiring a community kitchen.  They also cater for private functions.

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