Celebrating Volunteers’ Week 2019

As is tradition during the first week of June, Volunteers’ Week is a time to say thank you for the fantastic contribution volunteers make.

Charities across the UK will be holding events to celebrate the power of volunteering and last year, over 600 events took place across the country.

We will be celebrating the difference volunteers make to Empanda and every day this week, we will share a story that showcases the wonderful and invaluable role they play in our organisation.

Sally Hanlin, managing director said, ” We are indebted to our volunteers who give their time to support our many customers whilst enhancing the work of our staff team. We are delighted to be supporting Volunteers’ Week which gives us an opportunity to shout about the fantastic contribution our volunteers make to our organisation and more importantly, to the lives of the many people who use our services.”

We are hoping that by reading our stories, we will encourage people to try volunteering for the first time and to find out how, through volunteering, they can make a real difference.

Janet’s story
Lorraine’s story
Katy’s story
Alice’s story




It’s our Birthday!

Today marks Empanda’s third Anniversary and we are indebted to our wonderful staff team, our board and partnering organisations for their continued hard work and commitment in supporting us on our journey.

Another year older and another new project, this time in Diss, Norfolk.

We’re very happy to be working with Norfolk County Council to re-open the Denny Centre in Diss, providing day care for older, vulnerable people.

At the moment, we’re decorating and giving the building a general makeover with support from the Community Pay Back team.

We are planning an open event some time in the Summer. Watch this space!


A Birthday boost for Oak Trees

Following their amazing fundraising efforts last year, which included money to purchase two specially adapted bicycles and accessories, family of respite service user James Morgan, have again worked their fundraising magic.

Doris, James’ grandmother, recently celebrated her 90th Birthday but instead of accepting gifts for her milestone Birthday, she asked friends and family to donate to Oak Trees respite service for adults with learning difficulties.

Over the course of three separate celebratory lunches with various groups of friends and family, a grand total of £840 was raised. With a passion for flower arranging and gardening, the money is earmarked for landscaping, installing raised beds and flower planting in the Oak Trees Garden which is in need of a much-needed makeover.

An initial visit has now taken place to see what needs to be done and it is hoped that work will start shortly. Helping on the project will be James’ uncle and some of the young people living within our young people’s projects. It will also give those using the respite and supported living services the opportunity to try their hand at gardening.

In addition to this latest fundraising activity, since Empanda started in April 2016, the Morgan family have raised a fantastic £4,380 for the learning difficulty service, including £2,750 from flower arranging demonstrations and £790 from events at Wymondham Golf Society.

Kerrie Good, Director (Learning Difficulty Services), said, “We are bowled over by the dedication and commitment by the Morgans of our learning difficulty services and with their tireless fundraising efforts – thank you from us all.”

Empanda staff donate to EAAA at Christmas

On behalf of Empanda and East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), we would like to say a huge thank you to the Empanda staff team who voted to support the charity instead of receiving a company Christmas gift themselves. The unanimous ‘yes’ vote to donate money to East Anglian Air Ambulance, together with a donation from Empanda from money saved by sending an e-Christmas card instead of buying and posting traditional paper cards, has meant so much to the charity and we have since heard how our gift changes lives and makes a real difference to those in need of help.

In her recent  letter, which included a certificate for us to display, Jenny Mitchell, EAAA’s Development and Community Administrator, thanked everyone for their contribution which helps people like Charlotte, who had suffered a cardiac arrest. She recounted the story of how Charlotte’s husband James reacted instantly to help his wife, calling 999 and beginning immediate CPR. First responders quickly arrived on scene and Charlotte received two shocks from a defibrillator to get her heart back into a rhythm. The EEAST (East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust) team then arrived, followed by the EAAA crew. The EAAA team assessed and monitored Charlotte’s heart via ECG and cardiac ultrasound, gained intravenous access to administer medication and intubated her to take control of her breathing. Charlotte was then taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital with the EAAA crew by her side. She remained in hospital for two weeks, but despite suffering an arrest at such a young age, Charlotte made a great recovery and was soon picking up life as a busy mum once again.

With over 50 of the Empanda team spread across Norfolk and Suffolk, there was always the possibility of one of us or our loved ones needing this much needed service at some point. During the summer of 2018, a close relative of a team member suffered a serious road accident in a very rural location and received potentially life-saving treatment by Air Ambulance medics. Because of the prompt response by the rescue team, our colleague’s relative is now on the mend, so we are especially pleased our staff chose to support this wonderful and vitally important charity.

EAAA helicopters are able to reach anywhere in the region within 25 minutes. Their pilots fly a highly-skilled doctor and critical care paramedic team along with A&E level medical equipment, to patients who have suffered life-threatening accidents and medical emergencies.

The EAAA relies on the generous support of the community and couldn’t continue to provide their life-saving service without it.

Click here to find out more about the tremendous work being done every day by East Anglian Air Ambulance and how you can help support them.

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 www.brandonca.cf

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.