Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington



Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen and the leader of Darlington Borough Council Jonathan Dulston joined business owners in Darlington this week to launch the concept of the ‘Karma Café’ at Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington’s Café Refresh.

The Karma café coffee concept at Café Refresh is open to the public, including for business events, from 8.00am to 10.00am weekdays. At its core, the café embodies the idea of ‘paying it forward’, meaning that anyone buying a coffee, for example, can, if they so choose, also buy a second refreshment for an older person coming into the centre later that same day.

The café, which is run by a team of full-time staff and award-winning kitchen volunteers, can also cater for business lunches, either on site or at the client’s place of choice; and has recently won a catering contract with nearby HM Treasury.

At the event, Ben Houchen praised the work of Age UK and spoke about the vital importance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for both local businesses and the charity:

“Age UK is a cause close to my heart and one that my wife and I have supported for a long time. Thank you for all the fantastic work you do.

“The link between businesses and charity is vital, and where we can help pair them, we will. With so much new investment coming to Teesside, Darlington, and Hartlepool, it’s critical that we all think about how we can give something back to the community in which we live.

“On this note, it was great to hear that the Treasury have decided to use the Age UK Cafe for their catering needs. This is a fantastic contribution to the community and just another reason why bringing the Government to Darlington has been a positive step.”

Mr Houchen also talked about exciting plans for the renovation and expansion of Darlington railway station, which would increase connectivity and the new Treasury office which has 80% of its employees drawn from the local area. He talked about ongoing expansion and success at Teesside Airport and the new Darlington Economic Campus, which is shortly to house no less than seven Government departments and is located a stone’s throw away from Age UK’s offices.

Helen Hunter, CEO of Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington, said: 

“Not only does the café have a brilliant selection of savouries, cakes, and refreshments, but it is also open to businesses looking for a fully catered venue for meetings and events. The café is open to anyone wanting to drop in to grab anything from a coffee and bacon sandwich to smashed avocado on sourdough. Our catering manager Elaine does a simply amazing job, making a huge selection of dishes to suit all tastes.”

She added: “Our seven-day a week Meals at Home service provides homemade two-course hot meals made with love in our kitchen from scratch, delivered to the door by a volunteer who says, ‘how are you today?’ So, it’s a brilliant example of having the opportunity to check on peoples’ welfare.

“Last year, we brought £2.3 million back into the economy through the support we gave to older people accessing benefits. We don’t get any funding for that, and we have a small team which does a fantastic job, giving information and advice.”

If you are a business, and think you can help or would like to hold a meeting or event at the cafe, please get in touch with Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington at contact 01325 362832 or email

Or just remember Age UK's café when looking for your morning coffee or bacon sandwich!


MEDIA CONTACT: Marie Carter-Robb at or call 07760 477694.


Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington is a nationally registered charity and one of 150 locally based Age UK organisations providing a variety of services to older people aged 50 plus.

Whether it’s through recreational activities, expert information and advice, befriending services or just being somewhere to turn when things get too tough to cope with on your own, Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington provides crucial companionship, advice and support to thousands of people every year.

Community focused, Age UK is dedicated to enhancing the lives of older people in the community through befriending, outreach and social activities as well as providing an invaluable range of social and wellbeing services, including:

A cafe and restaurant.

A day centre.

Exercise & physical activity

Meals at home

IT Training courses

Social activities

back to Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington


From L to R: Jonathan Dulston, Leader of Darlington Borough Council; Kate Roe, Chair of Trustees Age UK North Yorkshire, and Darlington; Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen; Helen Hunter, CEO of Age UK North Yorkshire, and Darlington.
From L to R: Jonathan Dulston, Leader of Darlington Borough Council; Kate Roe, Chair of Trustees Age UK North Yorkshire, and Darlington; Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen; Helen Hunter, CEO of Age UK North Yorkshire, and Darlington.
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