'Proud and privileged' community café to shut its doors

K9 Community Café Ely to close

The K9 Community Café, founded by Chris Kent (centre), has announced it will be closing down. Left is one of the café's users and right, former mayor of Ely Mike Rouse in 2018. - Credit: The K9 Community Café

A community group in Ely which brings residents together through dog-assisted activities said it is “proud and privileged” after announcing it will close down. 

The K9 Community Café will not be reopening after attempts to find a new venue to hold its weekly meetings were unsuccessful. 

“We have been your volunteer team for many years – but Covid has impacted us too, and our lives are changing,” the café said in a statement. 

Last December, the group launched an appeal to find a new venue after the Ely Cathedral Conference Centre was forced to close amid the Covid-19 outbreak. 

The K9 café, which opened in 2012, then found outdoor space at Ely-based social enterprise Prospects Trust Unwrapped but places were limited while its ‘Canopy of Care’ project was completed over winter. 

K9 Community Café founder Chris Kent

The K9 Community Café, founded by Chris Kent (pictured), has announced it will be closing down after failing to find another venue. - Credit: Chris Kent/The K9 Project

 K9 Community Café Ely to close

The K9 Community Café has announced it will be closing down after failing to find another venue. - Credit: Mike Rouse

The group said with “no chance” of the conference centre reopening soon and less volunteers, restarting the café would prove too difficult. 


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“To set the café up again from scratch would take a huge amount of time, effort, behind the scenes work, and drive,” the statement continued. 

Mike Rouse at K9 Community Café

The K9 Community Café has announced it will be closing down after failing to find another venue. - Credit: K9 Community Café

“Attempts to find another venue have not been successful apart from outside at Unwrapped, which is fabulous, but weather dependent.  

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“Gatherings there and for dog walks across the summer when restrictions allowed have been spasmodically attended.” 

Earlier this year, Chris Kent, group founder, spoke about the lack of financial support given by the government in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the K9 Community Café.  

There are plans for the café to hold informal meet-ups outside Prospects Trust Unwrapped for anyone that wants to attend. 

K9 Community Café Ely to close

The K9 Community Café has announced it will be closing down after failing to find another venue. - Credit: K9 Community Café

K9 Community Café Ely to close

The K9 Community Café has announced it will be closing down after failing to find another venue. - Credit: Mike Rouse

Chris hopes the meet-ups are popular even if they are run in a different way. 

“People come and go, but there is not anyone that will be in the driving seat when Covid is over,” she said. 

“I’m gutted and the volunteers are sad to see it go.” 

The K9 Café helps promote social and mental health benefits to people through dog-related activities and has assisted those most in need during uncertain times. 

K9 Community Café Ely to close

The K9 Community Café has announced it will be closing down after failing to find another venue. - Credit: K9 Community Café

The statement added: “We have all felt so proud and privileged to be a part of it. 

“It has always been a place where people can be warmly welcomed, and just BE themselves, no pressure, no judgement, no agendas, registers, targets or demands. 

“It has been an honour to be involved in a very special, happy and welcoming place.” 

K9 Community Café Ely to close

The K9 Community Café has announced it will be closing down after failing to find another venue. - Credit: K9 Community Café

K9 Community Café Ely to close

The K9 Community Café has announced it will be closing down after failing to find another venue. - Credit: K9 Community Café

A meet-up is scheduled for Thursday May 6 outside Prospects Trust Unwrapped on Lynn Road, Ely. 

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