People waiting at the counter and ordering food in the Waffle House

Community fibre broadband and waffles are helping to tackle loneliness

  • Transcript

    Hi, I'm Simon, and welcome to the Waffle House.

    Our vision is to tackle loneliness. We do this by creating opportunities for people to engage in conversation and to meet other people they wouldn't usually meet.

    We give all of our profits away back into the community so that it's an investment straight back into the place that we live in Axminster here in East Devon.

    What that looks like on a week by week basis is that we can offer services like Tech Tuesday, where we partner with Lawson Computer Repair and offer free tech advice and support for people.

    We've talked in the past about the gap in digital support for the most at risk in our society and we are working with other partners to have a bank of SIM cards and other equipment so that we can offer out to those that don't have access to the internet and the way we've been able to implement and having Full Fibre here has been brilliant because it just is it's been smooth sailing for us that we could offer something and fulfil that promise about having reliable quick Internet here.

    With Openreach, right through the installation was a really quick turnaround. And the Openreach team right from the first person I spoke to right through to the engineering team were brilliant. There was really good communication and the work was done really quickly and well. So yeah, a really good relationship we had with Openreach.

“The Openreach team right from the first person I spoke to through to the engineering team were brilliant. There was really good communication and the work was done quickly and well.”

Simon Smith | Community Manager | Waffle House

“Every community needs a space where they can socialise without cost.”

A whopping 50 percent of us feel lonely. And with research showing that over a third of us wouldn’t admit it, tackling the issue is less than straight forward.

Fortunately, in Axminster, Devon, there’s a community loving company that loves a challenge.

In 2018, a group of friends set themselves a mission; to tackle loneliness by providing a relaxed environment that helps locals to meet and spend time with new people, without needing to spend money.

Taking a secret family waffle recipe, a lot of enthusiasm and, as their community manager puts it, “no money whatsoever” the team set about creating a community café where people could chat and snack together.

The Community Waffle House was born.

Onwards and upwards

With its varied activities, and delicious treats, the Community Waffle House was a hit with locals ,and  it wasn’t long before the team needed to upgrade their venue and extend what they offered.

As they found a larger property, they also developed a plan to expand their offer with Waffle Work, a hub where companies, students and self-employed people, could work, mingle and collaborate.

Their big move happened as the lockdowns of COVID were kicking in, not ideal for a company whose work revolved around socialising. But the Community Waffle House were not deterred. Instead, seeing the levels of isolation rise, they were more determined than ever.

But COVID was not their only challenge.

Bringing the community fibre broadband

Axminster didn’t have a full fibre broadband network, so the Community Waffle House’s internet connection wasn’t the fastest and was at risk of overload if many people used it.

Fortunately, we could help. Axminster was already in our sights and it wasn’t long before we began building the Ultrafast Full Fibre Broadband network that the town, and it’s Community Waffle House needed.

“From the first person I spoke to, through to the engineering team, Openreach were brilliant.”

Installation was plain sailing, and so quick that it was completed before they’d even received their new router.

The proof of the new broadband really has been in the pudding (or waffle?!), with many customers now choosing to pop in when their home internet plays up, because they know the Community Waffle House has a connection they can rely on.

And with their supercharged broadband in place, the team have gone on to help even more people through a variety of new activities that support digitally excluded people to connect, get online and develop new skills at the same time.

As they look to their Ultrafast future, they’re rightfully proud of what they’ve achieved to tackle loneliness. And we’re delighted to have played our part by bringing the community fibre broadband. We can’t wait to see what their Waffle House does next.

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