Val McDermid cuts ribbon at official reopening of Edinburgh charity's community cafe

Stockbridge-based crime writer Val McDermid greeted fans and regulars as she cut the ribbon to celebrate CafeLife’s return to full capacity.

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Speaking at the event, the bestselling author said: “We’re lucky to have it. The LifeCare centre and all vital services provided by the charity help support serious issues such as isolation and loneliness.”

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She added: I’m proud to be supporting LifeCare in it’s important work.”

Famed crime writer, Val McDermid cut the ribbon at the reopening of CafeLife in Stockbridge last week. Photo: Robin Mair

Situated on Cheyne Street, CafeLife is run by local charity LifeCare, and all proceeds from café sales go towards the organisation’s vital care services for older people living across Edinburgh.

Established in 1941, LifeCare, supports over 1000 locals a year, enabling senior members of society to live independently and helps individuals to tackle loneliness and isolation through various care services and activities.

But the Edinburgh charity, that has served the elderly community with bespoke care for over 80 years, has recorded “unprecedented” levels of referrals for support services since the advent of the pandemic.

Newly appointed Chief Executive of LifeCare, James Wells, said: “Older people bring so much to our society, and we work tirelessly to ensure none are left isolated and alone.

LifeCare CEO, James Wells, said the Edinburgh charity is seeing "unprecedented demand" in the advent of lockdown." Photo: Robin Mair

“Sadly older people have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic – health and well-being have suffered significantly.

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Mr Wells added: “We’re seeing unprecedented demand as we come out of lockdown – we’re up 250 per cent for our Help at Home services alone.”

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During the course of the pandemic, LifeCare staff not only rose to the occasion of working in significantly challenging times but also introduced new initiatives to ensure that the elderly community received the support they needed to stay well.

In September 2020, the charity launched their Meals On Wheels campaign, which has seen the delivery of over 16,000 meals to people with support needs across a large catchment area in the Capital, in addition to introducing a scheme to support registered care workers.

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Two years of Covid restrictions also saw the charity’s community café in Stockbridge get a revamp with its official reopening taking place last week to the delight of the community and staff.

Mr Wells said: “CafeLife in Stockbridge is hugely important to us – not only does it provide a unique, open and fully-accessible space for local people to meet and belong in the heart of Stockbridge, the café proceeds help us to deliver the care that’s needed in the area now.

“Without LifeCare, many older people would be left isolated – over 85 per cent of the people we help live alone.

“As a registered charity, none of our services are fully funded and we rely on our fundraising to support our life-affirming services.”

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He added: “We are always eager to meet with anyone who thinks they could help us to grow our capacity to meet this increasing demand.

“Our services provide the earlier help people need to keep them well in body and mind; helping when things are getting more difficult to manage, centred on the unique needs of each individual.”

You can support LifeCare by visiting their website at or by dropping in for a coffee and snack at the CafeLife café. Opening hours are 9am – 3pm Monday to Friday.