Fundraising recognition for a special family

Every day we make a positive impact on the lives of residents and service users but with extra help, we can do so much more. By raising funds for Empanda, no matter how big or how small, the results are priceless and the support we receive makes all the difference.

We are extremely grateful to those ambassadors who fly the Empanda flag but would like to recognise the fundraising efforts of one particular family, the Morgans, who go above and beyond to raise money for a service close to their heart (their son James uses our Respite Service for adults with learning difficulties).

Following the success of last year’s flower demonstration, which raised £1,350 towards the purchase of a vehicle for adults with a learning difficulty using the Oak Trees Respite and Supported Living services, Jane and her family decided to turn their attention to raising funds for a specially adapted bicycle. As well as promoting good health and well being, the bicycle would allow those using the service to sit beside a member of staff and experience the pleasure of cycling, something that many would never get the opportunity to do on their own.

Held at Hethersett Old Hall School in the spring, the ‘Bicycle made for Two’ lunch and flower demonstration event raised a fantastic £1,460 towards the bike. This was made possible thanks to the support and generosity of everyone involved – from the ladies who worked so hard on the day; Hethersett Old Hall School; East of England demonstrators Adele Kent and Joanne Randall; the audience and most importantly, Jane’s mum, who was instrumental in ticket sales.

Jane said, “We feel it is important that money raised is used for a specific purpose rather than being added to a general fund and we are sure that this made a huge difference in terms of the support we received.”

This fantastic boost to the fund meant that in the summer, we were able to purchase a couple of used specially adapted bicycles as well as helmets for those using the service to enjoy.

Jane and her husband Roger have continued to raise money this year and recently donated £140 from a sweep stake win, for festive food and drink, as well as Christmas decorations to replace those that had been destroyed in a recent flood at Oak Trees.

Kerrie Good, Director (Learning Difficulty Services), said, “We are indebted to Jane and her family, who tirelessly support the Oak Trees Respite and Supporting Living Services. Their fundraising efforts really do make a difference to the people we support and for that, we are truly grateful.”

Celebrating Social Enterprise Day – 15 November 2018

Social Enterprise Day is a global day to raise awareness about the impact social enterprises are having around the world. Empanda is proud to be one of the 100,000 social enterprises contributing £60 billion to UK GDP and we will be celebrating and supporting this year’s Social Enterprise Day in a number of ways:

We are supporting the #WhoKnew campaign run by Social Enterprise UK to highlight the difference Café 27 is making in our community and on Social Enterprise Day we are offering a buy one, get one free on tea and coffee.

We are treating our Day Centre members to a back garden makeover with the help of Community Pay Back, a scheme that allows offenders the opportunity to make amends for their crimes in their local community by carrying out unpaid work on local projects.

The team has already cleared the area of overgrown bushes and shrubs and on Social Enterprise Day, they will be laying paving slabs and erecting a greenhouse that a Brandon resident very kindly donated. This will give our members the opportunity to propagate seeds, grow tomatoes, strawberries and herbs for Café 27, or simply sit out in a pleasant environment when the warmer weather comes along.

We will also be handing out a celebratory sweet treat to members using our day care service, guests/visitors to our respite service for adults with learning difficulties and all residents living at our three Young People’s Services projects.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care attends Brandon Day Centre/Café 27 Launch

Over 150 people came together on Saturday to celebrate the long-awaited official launch of the Brandon Day Centre, the newly opened Café 27 and a new Minibus enabling access to the centre services.

The Day Centre building, which is run by Empanda Care & Support and owned by Forest Heath District Council, was built in 1998 from funds raised by the Brandon Community Association (BCA), a local charity, who continue to financially support the day centre’s two minibuses and the drivers who provide a free door-to-door transport service for day care members.

Following a warm welcome by Sally Hanlin, Empanda’s MD, Cllr David Palmer, Forest Heath District and Town Councillor and Brandon Day Centre steering group chair, spoke of the special relationship between Empanda and the steering group (comprising elected members, council officers, the BCA and other local people) in supporting the Centre. He talked about an ongoing fundraising campaign to raise money for two new minibuses to replace the old and tired vehicles currently in use, and how he and steering group colleagues had been successful in securing a grant award of £20,000 from Postcode Community Trust, a grant-giving charity funded entirely by players of People’s Postcode Lottery which, together with donations from locality budgets and Community Chest, local businesses and supporters, had resulted in the first minibus being purchased.

David said, “On behalf of the Steering Group, I would like to express our gratitude to all who have supported our efforts to replace the Centre’s two minibuses, including Postcode Community Trust and players of People’s Postcode Lottery, local people and organisations. Our first new vehicle is in place and we are now fundraising to replace the second. The rural nature of our catchment area and the limited mobility of our client base, makes the provision of free, daily transportation essential to maintaining the Centre’s viability. Be assured that your help has improved the quality of life for many who would otherwise be isolated in their own homes. We hope that the new buses will help to ensure that the Day Care Centre will continue to enhance the lives of our senior and more vulnerable citizens for many years to come.”

He then introduced The Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care who, after a short speech, declared the centre and café open before unveiling the new minibus with Stanley and Eadey, grandchildren of day centre member Keith Lawrence.

Backed by the media, Matt, along with Suffolk County, Forest Heath District and Brandon Town councillors, the BCA and the wider community, launched a campaign in the autumn of 2016 to keep the day centre open when the former provider announced their intention to close this vital resource, as it was no longer financially viable. Stanley (12) and Eadey (10), joined the campaign to ensure their grandad could continue enjoying his visits to the day centre by instigating a petition and collecting over 2,000 signatures. Having them join Matt to cut the ribbon recognised their valuable support.

“I wouldn’t have missed this for the world”, said Matt. “It’s fantastic how the whole community has pulled together to make this happen. Empanda taking over the Brandon Day Centre is evidence that it was the right thing to do. With so many different services on offer, it truly is a multi-generational centre. From being at crisis point, it has transformed into an even better day centre than before, and that warms my heart.”

The event then opened up to the wider Brandon Community, who met with members, staff and guests and visited the stands displaying the work of many of the organisations who work in partnership with Empanda, before enjoying some entertainment and a BBQ which had been prepared by staff and residents from Empanda’s young people’s service.

Sally Hanlin, Empanda’s managing director, said: “Our aspirations to see the Centre grow and evolve into a vibrant community resource for our members and the wider Brandon community are beginning to be realised. We have been overwhelmed by the support given from day one by the BCA, Town, District and County Councils, who have been integral in keeping the Centre open and continue to show their support and commitment to ensuring it remains sustainable and viable into the future.” She added, “We have many projects in the pipeline, including the opening of a ‘Men’s Shed’, a community garden at an allotment donated by the Brandon Allotment Association, a community cinema, as well as more inter-generational projects.”

Since Empanda took over in January 2017, day care attendance has doubled and the range of activities on offer to members has increased and is more varied. The centre has been totally refurbished and new lounge furniture has been purchased thanks to support from locality budgets, the BCA and the Ganzoni Charitable Trust. The former dining room has been transformed into a contemporary café – Café 27, which takes its name from the IP27 Brandon postcode.

Designed in partnership with students from West Suffolk College, Café 27 opened its doors to the public on 2 July this year, providing ethically sourced and locally roasted coffee, delicious snacks and cakes in a contemporary setting, including outdoor seating, kiddie’s corner and free Wi-Fi. The café also provides a locally sourced, nutritious two-course lunch for members, as well as for people at the neighbouring housing with care scheme, Heathcote House. The café offers a venue for a ‘Meet up Monday’s group and St Nicholas Hospice ‘Open House’ group and plans are in place to host new groups in the future.

The building’s meeting/training room is used by local organisations on a block or ad hoc basis and provides a perfect venue for those looking to hire meeting space.

Anyone wishing to contribute towards the fundraising appeal to purchase the second minibus can donate securely online by visiting

Photo Gallery

Empanda welcomes Meet up Mondays

From Monday 30 July, Café 27 will be opening its doors to a new ‘Meet up Mondays’ group here at Brandon Day Centre.

The Monday sessions, which will run between 10 am and 12 noon, will offer a free cuppa and biscuits to people who feel lonely or isolated, giving them a chance to meet others in a similar situation and make new friends.

Nicole, our Meet up Mondays host and all at Café 27 will provide a warm welcome and a friendly environment.




Café 27 is open for business

We are delighted to announce that Café 27 opened its doors to the public on 2 July.

The café, which is open from 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday, takes its name from the Brandon postcode and is the result of much hard work, painting and upcycling of furniture, to create a space that is welcoming, bright and contemporary. It will be managed by Pamela Pickard and Claudette Racine, who were recently appointed as Catering Supervisors on a job-share basis who will be assisted by Catering Assistant, Carl Hampton.

We worked closely with a number of organisations on this project but special thank you’s go to West Suffolk College – the café design is based on an idea presented to us by catering management students, Vinny, for his artistic talents, Alvin for his handiwork, and of course, our day care customers for their patience and understanding whilst the work took place.

The café, has super-fast wi-fi for those wanting a quiet space to work and includes an outdoor seating area and kiddies corner. It will also be a weekly ‘Meet Up Monday’ venue from Monday 30 July between 10am and 12noon for those people who are on their own to come and have a cuppa and meet others in the same situation.

Visitors using the café can enjoy a range of savoury snacks, delicious homemade cakes, real coffee made by our barista-trained team, as well as a range of teas and soft drinks.

We also offer a loyalty card, so on your first visit, ask at the till for your loyalty card and you will get a stamp for every hot drink purchased. Buy six hot drinks and get the seventh absolutely free!

We look forward to welcoming you in the café very soon.


Before and after shots of the café:

Students hard at work:

Café 27 fayre:






Empanda welcomes new Non-Executive Director

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Caroline Cunningham-Brown to the role of Non-Executive Director (NED).

Caroline is an experienced commissioner, with a background in developing, procuring and delivering services across housing, health and social care. She began her career as a support worker at a direct access hostel in West London, a role that directed her towards commissioning. After completing her degree, she took her first role as commissioner where she began the complex implementation of the Supporting People programme.

Over the years, Caroline has held several social care contract and commissioning roles but until April 2018, she was Commissioning Manager at Norfolk County Council & NHS North Norfolk CCG, with responsibility for the commissioning and decommissioning of health, housing and social care services as well as stakeholder engagement, working with the voluntary, charity, private and independent organisations to facilitate the delivery of services.

Caroline brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Empanda and is keen to work alongside staff and customers to support increased co-production within the development of Empanda’s long-term strategy.


Empanda welcomes new Non-Executive Director

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Sue Philp to the role of Non-Executive Director (NED). Sue is a housing professional with 37 years of housing management experience both within the private and social housing sectors. She brings a broad spectrum of skills, including leadership, governance and of course, the provision of homes and services, including homelessness, which will complement the existing talent we already have on the Board.

Sue told us that our ethos and values (integrity, creativity, honesty and compassion), resonated with her and were very much part of the appeal to join and support our organisation as we continue on our journey to provide valuable support and services to vulnerable people across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Until December 2017, Sue held the position of CEO with Suffolk Housing, where she was responsible for leading the Executive Team in the delivery of strategic and business plan objectives and is no stranger to the board room, having previously served on the board of two housing associations.



Community garden gets a much-needed makeover

Despite the bitterly cold winds and heavy downpours over the last couple of weeks, the Empanda Community Garden has undergone a real transformation thanks to the hard work of the local Community Payback team.

The team, led by supervisor Adrian, was at the garden four times over a two-week period, working tirelessly to ensure that the ground was turned over and prepared for sowing seeds and planting vegetables to be used in the Empanda community café.

Whilst work was tough in the adverse weather conditions, the rain did have some redeeming qualities, as at least the ground was soft enough to dig. However, for a good few days the ground, particularly the trenches around the beds, were absolutely waterlogged but thankfully, it is now beginning to drain away as the warmer weather gradually sets in.

We have used some of our £2,000 funding from the Tesco’s ‘Bags of Help’ community grant scheme to purchase chain-link fencing, posts and a gate which the team have erected around the garden’s perimeter. The remaining funds will be used to buy raised beds, a garden bench and some additional tools to add to those generously donated by the Brandon Allotment Association ‘Allotmenteers’.

We are extremely grateful for the efforts made and the time spent by the Community Payback team and to Adrian for keeping them motivated and focused throughout their time with us.

The results are amazing – a job well done, thank you!

The Empanda Community Garden Timeline so far …

July 2017






March 2018 

Giving back in Brandon

The Empanda Community Garden will soon be ship-shape and ready for planting vegetables thanks to help from the Community Payback scheme.

Community Payback is a scheme that allows offenders the opportunity to make amends for their crimes in their local communities by carrying out unpaid work on local projects such as re-decorating community centres, tidying public spaces and removing litter.

Community Payback is a part of a Community Order sentence, passed by Crown and Magistrates Court in England and Wales. It can also form part of a Suspended Sentence Order. Offenders can be sentenced to between 40 and 300 hours of unpaid work in the community, which must be carried out in their spare time. For those who are in employment, this could mean working at weekends or during their annual leave. Offenders who are unemployed can work three to four days a week.

Bryan Foster from Community Payback met with Sally Hanlin earlier today to assess the type of work needed to get the allotment to a stage when it would be ready for sowing seeds and planting vegetables. He told Sally that this was exactly the type of project that offenders enjoyed spending time on because it was for such a good cause and, when finished, would enable our day care customers and some of the adults with a learning difficulty that we support in the community, to participate in gardening activities.

Work is due to start in March to erect a perimeter fence, prepare beds, tidy paths and dig over the land in readiness for seed-sowing and vegetable planting. We very much look forward to seeing the new look allotment ready to start producing vegetables for the day centre café.


Empanda bags £2,000 from Tesco’s community grant scheme

Empanda Care & Support is delighted to announce it has bagged £2,000 from Tesco’s Bags of Help community grant scheme.

Bags of Help is run in partnership with environmental charity Groundwork, and sees grants raised from the sale of carrier bags awarded to thousands of local community projects every year. Since launching in 2015, it’s provided more than £40 million to over 9,700 local community projects.

Hundreds of shoppers voted in the Tesco Brandon store and Empanda has been awarded £2,000 for gardening tools and equipment to help get a Community Allotment Project off the ground and bring the project to life. The ‘Empanda Community Garden’ will grow produce for the community café in the Brandon Day Centre and will offer gardening and learning opportunities for older people using the day centre, adults with a learning difficulty and anyone interested in getting involved in the garden or in learning new skills and meeting new people.

Sally Hanlin, Empanda’s Managing Director, said, “We are delighted to have won this award and would like to thank all the shoppers at Tesco, Brandon, for choosing our project. We were very fortunate to have been gifted an allotment by the Brandon Allotment Association and the grant will help us transform the overgrown and unloved piece of land, into a thriving community garden which can be enjoyed by local people whilst helping to support the Day Centre. We are currently looking for volunteers with gardening experience to get involved with this project.”

Alec Brown, Tesco’s Head of Community, said, “Bags of Help has been a fantastic success and we’ve been overwhelmed by the response from customers. It’s such a special scheme because it’s local people who decide how the money will be spent in their community. We can’t wait to see the projects come to life.”

Voting ran in stores throughout September and October with customers choosing which local project they would like to get the top award using a token given to them at the checkout.

Tesco customers get the chance to vote for three different groups each time they shop. Every other month, when votes are collected, three groups in each of Tesco’s regions are awarded funding.

Groundwork’s National Chief Executive, Graham Duxbury said, “Bags of Help continues to enable local communities up and down the UK to improve the local spaces and places that matter to them. The diversity of projects that are being funded shows that local communities have a passion to create something great in their area. We are pleased to be able to be a part of the journey and provide support and encouragement to help local communities thrive.”

Funding is available to community groups and charities looking to fund local projects that bring benefits to communities. Anyone can nominate a project and organisations can apply online. To find out more visit