Cafe offers time for cuppa, chat and advice when it’s needed

Disabled people, or anyone with an interest in disability, are sure of a warm welcome at ILA Forth Valley's monthly drop-in cafe at Camelon Sensory Centre. Picture: Michael Gillen
Disabled people, or anyone with an interest in disability, are sure of a warm welcome at ILA Forth Valley's monthly drop-in cafe at Camelon Sensory Centre. Picture: Michael Gillen

Fancy a cuppa and a chat? That’s exactly what’s on offer to disabled people at a special cafe held on the first Thursday of every month.

The Independent Living Association runs the monthly cafe in Camelon’s sensory centre and guarantees a warm welcome to anyone who goes along.

The cafe not only welcomes disabled people to enjoy a light lunch but also offers occasional speakers and good advice on disabled issues. It also welcomes carers or anyone with an interest in disability.

And it’s not always serious. Every month Nan Laird – a fairly new volunteer – comes up with a quiz, occasionally sneaking in the odd ‘trick question’ to keep everyone on their toes.

There is also a free raffle to add a bit of fun.

Nan is already looking forward to the Christmas-themed cafe in December, where she has prepared a few surprises to get people in the festive spirit.

What they want to stress is that everyone is welcome.

“Many disabled people face social isolation and loneliness – it’s a good chance for them to come along and get some company,” said Elma Farquhar, a retired teacher who has been involved as a volunteer for many years.

“Others might just want a bit of advice or to talk to someone who is in the same situation.

“People are sometimes a bit shy of coming forward and they can be stuck in their own homes. Families nowadays are so busy ...

“We all sit round the table together so if someone comes on their own they will definitely be included in the group.”

Nan, who got involved through CVS, agreed, saying: “There is a lot of really helpful information and they are a nice bunch, so people can come along and get advice or just have a blether!”

The charge of £2 a week doesn’t quite cover costs but it does make enough to keep the cafe going.

And Elma and Nan are in no doubt of the value of the cafe, which has run ever since the organisation – then known as the Falkirk and District Disability Forum – was first established.

It is only one part of ILA Forth Valley’s work but it is an important cornerstone.

“When the ILA was set up, one of the founder members, Jamie Meiklejohn, wanted people to get together socially,” explained Elma. “He felt that was important, so that’s how the cafe started.”

Jamie, who sadly died two years ago, also felt it was important that the board had at least 50 per cent members who are disabled.

The organisation now employs three members of staff who offer a self directed support service to people with disabilities.

That means they are there to help disabled people live independent lives, with support, when it’s needed.

Although ILA Forth Valley is based in Grangemouth’s Dundas Centre, the cafe is held in the Sensory Centre in Camelon as it is easily accessible to so many.

The hope is that, in the future, ILA will be able to establish a cafe in Stirling and Clackmannan too – but that’s still in the pipeline.

The group is about to unveil a new website, but in the meantime Nan has set up a Facebook page – just look for ILA Drop In Cafe – which she has been busy promoting.

The next cafe is today, from 12.30-2pm, so why not pop along?

You can be guaranteed of a warm welcome and a wee blether at the very least!

The cafe

The ILA Drop In Cafe is held on the first Thursday of every month in the Sensory Centre, Camelon, which is fully accessible. A light lunch with tea, coffee, sandwiches and cakes is on offer, for a contribution of £2. It is open to anyone with disability or anyone with an interest in disability. Staff and board members of ILA are always on hand to answer any questions. Transport may be available, please get in touch with the charity. 

The Independent Living Association Forth Valley was first known as Falkirk and District Disability Forum. 
In 2002, working with Falkirk Council, it set up the Support Service, which is available to anyone eligible for Self Directed Support. 
Both the association and the support service provide free help and assistance to individuals and carers who have a social services or NHS based ‘assessed need’ for care and support. In 2005 the forum changed to a company limited by guarantee and changed its name to Independent Living Association Forum Forth Valley. It is registered as a charity with a board of trustees elected to ensure it is representative and accountable. It is always on the lookout for new board members.


The group will soon launch a new website but in the meantime there is lots of information available at
Get in touch

Any of the Independent Living Forth Valley board members or staff can be contacted by calling 01324 508794 or emailing