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Gordon Jamieson, Chief Executive of NHS Western Isles, cut the ribbon to open the Shed Café.

The opening of the Shed Café in Stornoway is about far more than the town having a new place to enjoy a cup of coffee, a hot filled roll, or a cookie.

A recovery café, the new Francis Street establishment from The Shed Project is providing people on the road back from addiction an opportunity to meaningfully contribute to the community.

"Our three volunteers, they have been on a recovery journey so they have that knowledge to enable them to help others," says Fiona Douglas, The Shed Business Manager.

"It is about giving them skills, giving them a purpose."

Staff and volunteers at The Shed Café.

An opening ceremony on the morning of Tuesday December 5 saw Gordon Jamieson, Chief Executive of NHS Western Isles, cut the ribbon to announce the café open for business. Tables, however, were already full, with Fiona describing the event as a 'roaring success'.

Yet reaching this day was a long process, Fiona explains.

"It has been something we have been keen to do for a long time. Recovery cafés are not new: it is a global concept. They are in Scotland but there was not one in Lewis. Because we have the premises, it just made sense.

"But we had to reconfigure our space: all we had was half a worktop. We were not equipped to do this. We had to install the surfaces, put in the air fryer. It has been quite a wee journey. I would say it has taken about six months."

Lord Lieutenant Iain Macaulay, Comhairle Convener Kenny Macleod, and Council Officer Finlay Macleod were amongst those enjoying a coffee on the opening morning.

Funding for the project came from the Outer Hebrides Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP), which has also worked with The Shed on its The Well and The Ark drop-in recovery projects.

While the café will be in a pilot stage for about a year, it is hoped it can become a long-term feature of Stornoway's scene in which all are welcome. It will also serve as a place for others needing assistance on their journey to recovery with The Shed to volunteer.

Catching up for coffee: (l-r) Matthew MacNeil (Youth & Schools Manager, The Shed), Chief Inspector Jane MacKenzie, Angela Grant (Development Officer, Outer Hebrides ADP), Dena Macleod (Chief Executive, HHP), Claire Smith (Trustee, The Shed).

"The purpose is to provide a safe space for people to come. It is a facility for the whole community, for people to come, feel welcome, feel supported. It is to give back to the community," Fiona adds.

"Thanks obviously to ADP: without their funding we could not have done this. The volunteers for volunteering to do this without necessarily knowing what it would look like - they have done fantastically well. And to everyone who has shown up to support it at such a busy time of year."

The Shed Café is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 3pm.