The Royal Oak pub in Ipswich to open as a recovery centre and music venue next year

The Labour group outside Endeavour house with a cheque for The Oak.

The Labour group outside Endeavour house with a cheque for The Oak. - Credit: Archant

A derelict pub in Ipswich is being transformed into a recovery centre for people coping with addictions.

Simon Aalders and Cllr Mandy Gaylard at The Oak.

Simon Aalders and Cllr Mandy Gaylard at The Oak. - Credit: Archant

A derelict pub in Ipswich is being transformed into a recovery centre for people coping with addictions.

The East of England Co-op has bought The Royal Oak in Felixstowe Road and is set to turn it into a cafe, music venue and short-stay hostel to support those recovering from addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling, shopping and gaming.

It is the brainchild of Ipswich man Simon Aalders, who has had more than 25 years of experience working with and running services that treat addiction.

The 48-year-old said: “We want to turn this derelict building back into something for the whole community to use.

The Royal Oak pub in Felixstowe Road, Ipswich.

The Royal Oak pub in Felixstowe Road, Ipswich.


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“It’s going to be alcohol-free so we will be able to promote different groups, community events and activities alongside supporting people in recovery.”

Mr Aalders worked with the Co-op on the Reducing the Strength campaign, which aimed to remove cheap, super-strength alcohol from Ipswich stores to help combat the number of street drinkers in the town.

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It was then that Mr Aalders pitched the idea of creating a community hub where people of all ages could gain the support, skills and confidence to recover from addiction.

The premises is being leased to Mr Aalders, who picked up the keys in September, and he has so far received £20,000 of funding from various organisations to help get the refurbishment of the pub underway.

The latest boost came from Suffolk County Council’s Labour councillors, who have provided £9,500 from their locality budgets to cover the cost of building a disabled-friendly community garden, together with renovation work and plumbing for the site.

The centre, which will be called The Oak, will also include space to accommodate six people upstairs and will be offered for a period of up to 12 weeks for people in need or for those who are returning to Ipswich after getting help elsewhere.

Mr Aalders said he hoped the cafe and music venue would be complete by February next year and the accommodation ready for use in April. The centre will also work alongside other businesses in the area and Mr Aalders has already linked up with Victoria’s Bakery across the road.

He added: “We are not coming in to take anything over but to improve and support the area and to bring people in to use those local shops.”

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