The friendly cafe tackling the stigma around mental health

In Kettering there is a cafe that opens on weekends to support those suffering with mental health issues and to those feeling a bit lost.

THE welcoming cafe, Johnny’s Happy Place, works to help reduce the stigma around mental health. Regularly running events, every Saturday they also have two trained counsellors who come in for three hours.

The cafe pays for these counsellors and all the money that gets raised for the cafe goes towards them as well as on food, rent and an art teacher so that people can get access to free drop in counselling, free art workshops, have free tea and coffee and remarkably a plate of lovely food for only £1.

The space was set up in memory of Johnny Mackay, who took his own life in Oct 2014. Johnny’s family was inspired to open somewhere that bridges the gap between Friday and Monday.

Their website adds: “It is important for us to remember the reasons Johnny died and to acknowledge the dark place he and we went to for the latter half of 2014.

“It is important for us to be honest with ourselves and others, as that is the only way to truly help people experiencing what Johnny and we as a family experienced. It is, however, also important for us to remember Johnny as he was for most of his life and it is important to create a place that Johnny would be proud to have his name attached to.

Denise Mackay and her son Johnny (Johnny’s Happy Place)

“Johnny often talked about setting up his own ‘Happy News’ TV channel. He hated seeing all of the awful things going on in the world and believed it would benefit people to perhaps have a channel which only broadcast happy news.”

After opening in 2015, Johnny’s Happy Place has become a place of refuge for any and everyone. Whether it be people suffering with loneliness, anxiety, depression, money problems or maybe nothing at all.

The not-for-profit shared on its Facebook page: “We have evolved and grown over the years, but we’ve always served free tea and coffee. We think that’s very important. Tea is very important. It can help the most dire of situations.

“Everyone is a volunteer. Not a single person gets paid. Everyone that volunteers for JHP, including all board members, do so because they want to help and support the people that walk through our doors.”

The cafe is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am-2pm (Johnny’s Happy Place)

Along with having counsellors on Saturdays, the cafe regularly hosts events, and on Sundays has free Tai Chi/Mindfulness and Creative Writing classes.

The post adds: “It’s a bright and vibrant place, with books to read; a pool table out the back, which anyone can play on; board games; happy newspapers and volunteers to chat to. If you haven’t popped by, please do. It’s a friendly place. And a dog friendly place too! We are open to everyone. Any age, any income. We’d love to see you. Sat and Sun 10-2. Keystone, 97 Rockingham Rd, Kettering.”

You can learn more about Johnny and the wonderful work of Johnny’s Happy Place on their website or by visiting their Facebook page.

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