During this period of widespread isolation for so many vulnerable people in our communities, the selfless work of kind individuals has become even more invaluable.

Lookout Community Hub founder Jo Jones has been leading the charge as the new Carlisle cafe and hub attempts to bring the local area together during these unprecedented times.

She reveals that the new venue on the Raffles estate came about to plug the gap after Community Reach closed after three decades of work in the area.

“The idea came about at the back-end of last year," she states.

"Community Reach were a charity that had been on our estate for over thirty years and they finished. So we were left with nothing. A little group of us got together to see what we could do but obviously Covid hit and we had to take a different route and it came from that.

“I was very active with Community Reach over the years but was desperate to carry it on because I just felt it was so important to our area.

“There’s nothing on the estate that would’ve filled the gap. There aren’t many places to act as a hub to bring people together, so that is what we are looking to do.”

She explains that the hub will be a drop in cafe where hot drinks and treats such as scones and cakes will be served, alongside vital services.

“For now, we are looking at doing virtual coffee mornings to connect with people."

She added: “We’re hoping people will come forward to use the hub for things like book groups, local history groups and more. We also want to invest in a community computer and tablets for people looking to learn how to use technology, for example.”

Lookout is also housing a branch of the Affordable Food Hub.

"We can all fall on difficult times. It reaches out to anybody who is struggling. To have that on our estate is lovely."

She has now extended her pleas to the wider community in the hope that they too will feel the need to get involved.

“We want to ge the community as involved as possible. Lookout is for everybody.

"I’ve lived and worked on this estate for over ten years and I really believe in this community."

Vickie Howard has also been a vital member of the Lookout team since it began at the end of last year.

"It's really exciting for our community.

"Our area has experienced difficulties in recent times as many places have. This lets us look ahead and help people. A lot of people around Raffles have lost their jobs and we would love to help where we can.

"We have had ideas to help with managing one's finances, for example, with drop-ins which could become vital."

She added her praise for the efforts of Jo Jones in this venture.

"She's been a star," Vickie states.

"It's finally coming together and I'm so pleased for her as she's given so much of her time to this."

County councillor Christine Bowditch also welcomed the news of Lookout's establishment.

She stated: "When Reach closed, we lost something so vital in our community. It's always been needed but it's needed more than ever right now.

"I can't wait to see it get started. Seeing the Affordable Food Hub open there has been so promising and also the positivity of seeing people interacting has been fabulous.

"Once it can open properly, I can see it going onto even greater success."

She too offered her thanks to Jo Jones for her great leadership on making this project a reality.

"Jo is the central part of this. We're so glad we have backed this as she has fabulous ideas. People in the area know her and trust her and that is what is going to make it work."