A CHARITY has stepped in to save the café at Colchester Primary Care Centre from closure.

Community360 has taken over the reins of the facility at the Turner Road site from the Colchester League of Hospital and Community Friends.

The friends closed its three shops at the primary care centre and nearby hospital at the end of October due to dwindling trade caused by coronavirus and the arrival of big brands M&S, Costa and WH Smith.

Community360 is already heavily involved at the hospital and runs the Home from Hospital and Befriending Service.

The café will remain open as part of a new community hub, with four jobs saved by the move.

Tracy Rudling, chief executive officer for Community 360, said: “We were saddened by the news of our colleagues at Colchester League of Hospital Friends and the demise Covid has had on their amazing service over the years and reached out to see how we could help and support them.

“We are delighted many partners have seen the benefit of us leading this new hub initiative when the timing is right.

“We will be keeping on the four staff who were employed and manage the volunteers too.

“We see this as a collaboration between Colchester League of Hospital Friends and ourselves and moving forward we have further plans to develop the area into a partnership community hub, a place where people can come and have a cup of tea as well as giving us the opportunity to meet people and show them what other services the North East Essex Alliance can offer around early intervention and prevention programmes.”

The café at the primary care centre has been open for years but like the Friends’ other shops had become financially unviable after the big brands moved in.

Frank Jordan, chairman of Colchester League of Hospital Friends, said: “We are sad to be leaving but pleased another charity will be taking over at the primary care centre.

“Community360 has great plans, not only for the shop, but also to create a community hub at the centre. I wish them all the best for the future. I am sure we are leaving it in good hands.”

The cafe is open 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday.