Willow Bank Court’s ‘Best Bites’ cafe/restaurant off to a wonderful start

19th November 2010.  Today we make some small corrections to our 8th November posting.  See if you can spot the difference!        

Cllr John Salter

Adrian and I called into Seacombe’s Willow Bank Court today for the official opening of its ‘Best Bites’ cafe.     See also our earlier report –      

http://seacombelabour.org/because-seacombe-matters-/2010/10/06/      

‘Willowbank’ is a fabulous new ‘Housing 21’ project, embracing an hotel-style living block of wholly self-contained flats, and bungalows, managed by Gill Jones, seen in the photograph below.           

Gill Jones manages the whole complex of supported flats and independent bungalows

This development stands head and shoulders above anything else we have seen providing supported living for people over 55. For years to come this ‘brand leader’ will surely be the exemplar to which other social housing providers will have to aspire.   There is even a meeting room that can be hired by local organisations for community use.  And with the local Health Centre and Pharmacy on the same site what could be more convenient?       

After a busy morning on ward casework we were keen to visit Willowbank’s cafe/restaurant for its official opening day.  With an excellent lunch for an affordable price we were not disappointed.   At the moment opening times for breakfast through lunch to afternoon tea are 10.00am until 4.00pm.  But these are early days and times may vary according to demand.  There are 100 or so residents living in the immediate complex and the cafe/restaurant will be available to them, and to the public, seven days a week.  Full breakfasts start at only £3.00 including tea, toast and marmalade or jam; and a full lunch can be had for £5.00 including a pudding and a pot of tea.  And there is a wide range of light meals and snacks.         

Debbie, Community Recovery Services Manager, with John (centre) and Adrian at lunch

There are not many cafes or restaurants nearby.  Nor are there many anywhere else that can match this one for its ready accessibility and excellent furnishings – not to mention the most helpful staff.  By the way – the food was excellent!  We are both seen here with Debbie, who manages ‘Community Recovery Services’ – providing sandwich delivery services to many Council buildings.  It also caters for buffets at highly competetitive rates.           

Wirral Mencap’s generous provision of a van enabled ‘Wirral Creations’ (who provide craft based activities for adults with learning disabilities) to travel to different venues to sell the products they create.  The cafe has also benefited – in partnership with Debbie Broster and Gareth Williams of ‘Community Recovery Services, it has allowed adults with learning disabilities, and people with mental health issues, to develop a sandwich making and delivery service as well as the opportunity to work in the excellent social enterprise cafe at Willow Bank.  Gwen Seller, who chairs Wirral Mencap, is seen in the photograph below with Adrian and John standing near the splendid new vehicle. 

Gwen Seller of Wirral Mencap is seen centre left with Adrian. Debbie and John are to the right. On the far left is Bob, visiting Seacombe from afar as he is interested in similar projects in other localities. (Always courteous, we offered Bob a membership form!)

Next we took a walk around the main building.            

Just like old times for John, a former newsagent, in the shop

First call, after lunch, was to the shop – rather like a traditional ‘corner shop’ this is open to the general public, providing much needed basic essentials from a loaf of bread to a pint of milk, or today’s newspaper – basic essentials for people many of whom are less mobile than they once were.           

And of course, for those who need mobility scooters, there is a well appointed indoor parking spot with electric charging points.  A sparkling new ‘unisex’ hairdressing salon is also open to the public.           

Just along the corridor we found a ‘Complementary Therapy Suite’ providing a range of ‘well being’ facilities – including a valuable massage service for those no longer quite as flexible as when they were younger.           

Barbara, the therapist on duty when we visited, demonstrates an age old Chinese therapy - with needles

Talking to Barbara Huddart, the therapist on duty when we visited, Adrian mentioned that after well over a half-century of violin playing he had now dug out his old harmonica as he could no longer comfortably play his violin’s lower strings.  Presto!  He was given a demonstration of the beneficial effects of a centuries-old Chinese therapy – as the photographs show.  The needles caused not even the slightest hint of discomfort and the technique made a real difference to flexibility.           

Adrian was most impressed with the result, and says "There is not the slighest discomfort - quite the opposite, it's most relaxing."

For many people the main value of this service will perhaps be more traditional massage for such familiar conditions as shoulder and lower back discomfort.  This, too, is a service available for the general public – but book ahead – it promises to be much in demand.  Especially so as Yoga classes will also be available.       

This Seacombe housing development is likely to be replicated in other areas as ‘Housing 21’ seems to have set a quality standard that others will try hard to follow.  Soon  – perhaps in April or May – Mendell Court,  a similar development, will open in Bromborough.       

We are sure this short description has left out a great deal but we know this development will attract much news coverage in the weeks and months ahead.  We wish it well; it is a great service to our community.      

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Comments

  1. Hello this post is very good. Can you comment me any related articles?

  2. Unbelievable, that’s just what I was shooting for! This article just saved me alot of looking around

    I’ll make certain to put this in good use!

  3. Good info. Big thanks for that.

  4. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  5. Went to Willow Bank Court today with my in-laws to look around . Was very impressed with the whole building and staff i met were very friendly & professional. We enjoyed a good meal in a wonderful cafe/restraunt served by nice friendly helpful staff. Good luck to Best Bites & Housing 21 future thinking from Wirral can be a blue print to other councils and other counties to take note from .

  6. Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

  7. Ned Rowland says:

    A1!!!

  8. John Syme says:

    Interested in the ‘Best Bites’ concept. Is this a partnership with the council or Housing 21, who are presumably a social landlord. Is the profit re-invested in the business?

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