The Pear Café on Sussex street in Alberton, South Australia, was created by community-minded owners and long-term locals Christie Anthoney and Joost den Hartog, along with the support of aged care provider ECH and $32,500 in Fund My Neighbourhood government funding.
The duo used their passion and community spirit to transform an underutilised building by the local train station, offering people of all ages an easily accessible place to participate in art classes, book clubs, tea blending workshops and produce swaps.
Ms Anthoney says the café offers a unique blending of a community centre, activity group and café environment, with a special focus on older community members thanks to the support of ECH.
“With the train station on its door, The Pear will ensure early commuters have great coffee and locals have somewhere to go during the day to learn a new skill, meet the neighbours, or just read the paper in a new setting,” she explains.
ECH Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David Panter says the aged care provider will be assisting with council applications, architectural design of the interior, as well as helping to run social activities and projects at the café.
He adds that the café, and the activities on offer, will help to combat social isolation often experienced by older people.
“When people have a welcoming meeting location in their neighbourhood, they are more likely to connect with each other, feel part of their community and live more fulfilling lives,” Mr Panter says.
“ECH has many residents and clients living independently in their own homes in the area and the café will provide opportunities to stay connected with their community and socially active.”
South Australian Minister for Ageing Zoe Bettison has welcomed the new establishment and what it aims to achieve for not only the community, but for older locals.
“Social isolation is a key challenge for older South Australians, many of who live alone,” she explains.
“I welcome the establishment of the café and community centre, and the opportunities it will provide for older people to connect with the local community [and] I congratulate ECH for this innovative new project and hope it is a great success.”
Minister Bettison adds that this is one initiative she hopes to see more of, including in regional areas where she says geographic isolation is also “a barrier to getting older people to engage in their communities”.