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MaDCaff Aims and Objectives


MaDCaff aims to use music and dance as a vehicle to support creative people who have been affected by mental illness through providing a pressure-free platform. And cake.


    1. To create amazing and accessible showcase opportunities
    2. To encourage but never pressurise, acknowledging two things:
      1. people sometimes can’t get out of the house – that’s the nature of mental illness
      2. people benefit from being part of the community and taking part in events where their own talents will be celebrated
    3. To create a wide range of volunteering opportunities with support and training and make the best use of each individual’s unique skillset
    4. To source everything locally where possible, the talent and the cakes
    5. to be a community asset that works in a self-sustaining way but makes use of
      1. any good opportunity to gain funding or donations in kind
      2. any chance to partner with other like-minded people and organisations
Tom Grey at Small World Theatre

It’s a pop-up cafe style event where anyone affected by mental illness who is also a performer of music and/or dance (and the odd poet) can perform in a stress free environment. There’s a cafe serving drinks and cakes and at the end we pass the hat round. 

In Ceredigion, where we launched the original MaDCaff, we’ve been lucky with an awesome selection of musicians and performers. It’s not just people happy-clapping any old rubbish, it’s real, talented and sometimes raw and hurting people with amazing talent but whose illness often stops them taking up opportunities.  

Dai Sharkey and Miranda Betts at an early MaDCaff in Small World Theatre, 
Dai also had Time to Change Funding and inspired us to go for it.

 MaDCaff was founded in 2012 by Miranda Betts, a singer-songwriter and dancer with Bi-Polar disorder and Rachel Stelmach of Disability Arts Cymru. Miranda wanted to find a way for other musicians and dancers with a mental health condition to get together and network to create better opportunities.

Together we devised ’MaDNet’, a Facebook group, intending to launch a networking group with a showcasing event. But Time to Change Wales funding came along and it seemed like a perfect opportunity to do more than just one event, we decided to run a series of 6. We used the original idea of MaDNet and call it MaDCaff. 

It’s a simple enough concept, the pop-up cafe events showcase the talents of local musicians and dancers who are, or have been affected by mental illness, everybody gets coffee and cake, time to talk to each other, perform if they want to, not if they don’t. Sometimes people want to talk about their mental illness, others just want to sing or dance or play their instrument.

Each MaDCaff is different and although there are always some excellent, high-quality acts waiting in the wings, we also encourage people who attend the events to get up and perform spontaneously, whether it’s music or dance or even spoken word – advance arrangements are not necessary. We deliberately don’t bill anyone so that there’s as little pressure on our performers as possible.  

It is powerful because it offers a different model of people with mental health conditions. The stereotypical media notions are that people with schizophrenia are dangerous and will hurt you with knives. At MaDCaff you’re more likely to see someone with schizophrenia being the most amazing act of the whole evening. And it may be that he hasn’t left the house in 3 months, but feels safe to come to that one event – MaDCaff. 

Miranda on the Ukulele
Miranda on the Ukulele

Yep, we picked up the Epic Award for  best voluntary arts project in Wales in 2015, a really great affirmation that we were onto something good. 

In 2019 MaDCaff continues to be an epic, well supported and now self-sustaining event

This is aim we have for all the new MaDCaff groups forming over the span of the project.

      1. Be epic
      2. Be local
      3. Be voluntary and pressure free
Collecting our Epic Award

We had a dream

It has always been our dream to go national, spreading the MaDCaff ethic across the whole of Wales. So when the Volunteering in Wales funding came along we had to try for it even though we knew the chances of getting it were slim.

Marc Gordon, MaDCaff Regular

 And finally our dream is coming true

We found out in March 2019 that we had been awarded the full amount we had asked for, so there will be a total of 7 new groups, 2 in the North East, 2 in the North West, 2 in the South and 1 in West/Central Wales, making a total of 8 groups (including the existing Ceredigion group). 

 The project runs for a year. Within that year DAC Regional Officers will support groups in each area to come together, recruiting all the volunteers needed to run events and establish a core group of at least 3 who will take over as they gradually withdraw and leave you in charge of your local MaDCaff. We aim to run 4 events in each of the 7 areas over the span of the project. 

Each of the Regional Officers has their own understanding of their territory and where might be the best place/s to start up a group with a nearby appropriate venue, but we want to hear ideas from volunteers as well. There will be regional differences in how things work but we have the basic framework so it’s all about finding the pieces and putting them together. The venues could be community halls, arts centres, theatres, it all depends on finding the appropriate venue where the café area and the performing area are in the same space.

Steve Acworth (RIP)

Our volunteers and performers have been the inspiration to develop the project further, having seen have seen how they loved working together to support an event that affords great opportunities for performers to show what they are capable of in a supportive environment. They make new friendships with people they would never have met otherwise. People living with mental illness are very often isolated and fear going to social events because they don’t know anyone or don’t feel like they’d be welcome or fit in. At the same time many of them are also highly creative people.

Performers who have been unable to play publicly for years can come to MaDCaff and feel ok about performing again and they might develop enough confidence to go to other open mic sessions and ultimately to take on paying gigs again.

The volunteers who facilitate all this happening are often people with lived experience of mental illness and they also get a great deal out of being part of the events. 

Jen - one of our café crew in Ceredigion

MaDCaff came about because of Miranda’s experience as musician and dancer living with bi-polar disorder, being booked to do a gig and named on the publicity causing such anxiety that she often had to cancel. This was not well understood by gig organisers and this is how performers with mental illnesses are often labelled as ‘flaky’ or unreliable and end up not being invited to perform and this is a huge waste of talent. So we decided that we’d never put anyone’s name on the publicity, never put any expectation onto our performers to turn up at all or to perform if they did turn up. MaDCaff provides a welcoming atmosphere, people stop talking and listen, which is important for that performer’s confidence. 

Whilst the MaDCaff ethos is to create pressure free performance opportunities, that extends to volunteers as well and whilst we want you to develop your skills and try out new things we will never expect you to do anything that could undermine your own mental (or physical) wellbeing. Many volunteers will have the opportunity to do Mental Health First Aid training which you’ll find personally very beneficial but will also enable you to support other volunteers or performers who may be feeling anxious.

April at Victoria Hall - No Pressure

There are many roles available, hopefully something for everyone. Even if you are not fully confident to take on a role, we have training to support you. 

It is possible to combine some roles, e.g., the documentary photography at the event combined with the post event processing and uploading of images.

Available Roles

    • Marketing
    • Performer recruitment
    • Venue sourcing and liaison
    • Equipment Manager
    • Café Stockist
    • Venue volunteers
    • Café Crew – 2-3 minimum
    • Compere
    • Documentary – at the event
    • Documentary – post event
    • Blogger – post event
    • Treasure
    • Core organising team – 3 people min

We also have a document with each role’s specific tasks in greater detail.

Jen in the Kitchen at MaDCaff Victoria Hall

It is not mandatory to do any training but, depending on your role, we think that you will benefit from it. Some roles such as the café crew will need to have done the Food Hygiene certification. We created this list of training for running MaDCaff groups but there will be benefits to volunteers that go beyond MaDCaff, contributing to options in work, further volunteering or learning.

Training offered

Mental Health First Aid

A two day training course that would normally cost you up to £200. You will also receive an excellent handbook and a certificate.

First Aid

A one day basic introduction to First Aid. Around 3 people in each group doing this should ensure a certified first aider at each event. Your Regional Officer can recommend courses in your area or you can find one that suits you but get the cost authorised before proceeding.

Food Hygiene Safety Level 2 and Level 3

Everyone volunteering in the cafe will do at least Level 2 Certification. This is an online course over about half a day. Additionally one person can take the Level 3 course.

Risk Assessment

One of the core organising group will do this. It’s a useful skill and not difficult to learn. 

Safeguarding and Dementia Awareness

Children and/or vulnerable adults may attend MaDCaff so we recommend that somebody takes on this role, ideally one of the core group.

Training for specific roles

We also have a flexible budget for each group so that anyone taking on roles such as the photography or Blogging can further their existing knowledge or take a sideways step and learn something new, benefiting them in their role and beyond.

Marketing is a really useful skill and will make a big difference to a group to have someone who really knows their stuff or is willing to learn. 

Volunteers can research relevant training either locally or online then contact your DAC Regional Officer for the authority to book the course.

Sound engineering
Documentary photography and Videography
Post-processing of documentary footage
Blog writing, editing, image integration
Anything else that could come under the heading of arts/ media training

Annie and her pole, came to MaDCaff and did an impromptu workshop


Here is a list of some online course providers, but feel free to research your own.

General Providers:

Some examples of specific online courses

Rachel Hargrave's Drumming group

We have to have concern for the environment as much as possible in creating these events. These are our existing practices, please get in touch if you have other ideas.

  • We rely more on social media to spread the word than we do on paper publicity. We only print very limited numbers of posters, based on exactly how many we know we can put up in any given area, limiting them to the location you are holding the event in and places you know that potential volunteers are most likely to see them. Posters will be printed in Cardiff and posted out to the groups. However if you have an alternative, eg an organisation that is willing to print as an in-kind donation, that’s fine too. 
  • We use locations with access by public transport or for local people to walk or cycle to the event. We must still ensure sufficient parking spaces for those who have no choice but to drive, especially blue badge holders.
  • We like community halls which often have a kitchen and reuseable crockery rather than using disposable plates and cups. Encourage people to bring a small container so they can take home any leftover cake, rather than wrapping in paper napkins or plastic bags. 
  • Getting donations of cake from a local bakery or volunteers baking not only saves money but uses far less packaging than shop bought items.
  • We are careful to recycle anything we can. We aim to create more recycling than landfill rubbish.
  • We encourage people to lift share.
Michael Breeze in the Great Glasshouse

Hooray, that’s great

Why so many registration forms?

We don’t like forms either, they are a nuisance, but we absolutely have to make sure that everything is done properly, especially logging of volunteer hours and expenses. We know that it can be difficult for some people to do forms and we are available to help you if you can’t manage it. Call the office on 02920551040 or txt 07726112784 and someone will take your details and put them into the form for you. [NB Opening Hours are 9-5 Monday – Thursday]

1. Volunteering in Wales

First register with the Volunteering in Wales website. This will help you (and us) to log the hours that you have spent on The Big MaDCaff Project. The link will take you to the Vale of Glamorgan area but you can still register as a volunteer from there. Then you will be taken, based on your postcode, to your own County’s page. After you are logged in, you will be able to see any MaDCaffs in your area, otherwise, search ‘MaDCaff’ and it will show you all the areas where it is happening.

Launch Volunteering Wales website

2. MaDCaff internal database

Next register on DAC’s internal database. This will link you to the group in your area and allows us to find out what your existing skills are and what training you are interested in.

Go to the form at the bottom of this page or
Open MaDCaff Airtable in a new window

3. DBS Check

Next is a basic DBS check. These can be completed online and volunteers are don’t cost you anything. Use the link to begin the process. Our Finance and Administration Coordinator in Cardiff will need to see a set of documents. You can either bring these documents in to the office if you are local or you can send them in to her by email to sue@dacymru.com. The list of documents needed is here on the gov.uk website.  or you can download it as a PDF file. Don’t start the process until you’ve been in touch with us and have been approved as a viable volunteer which just means that you live near enough to one of our new MaDCaff  groups to be able to get to events. If you already have an existing DBS check that is less than 3 years old we will accept that, either by bringing it in to the office to show to Sue or by scanning it and sending it to sue@dacymru.com.

DBS Checks 


Many Treasures Chorus


Once you have started volunteering, you’ll be able to claim online for expenses. There are certain things that can be claimed, these are listed in the form. If it’s an item such as shopping for drinks, you can upload a receipt by using your phone camera, a webcam or scanner on your computer. We think most people will be able to do this but we will help if you can’t. Authorised mileage can be claimed for at 0.45ppm. This form is also on Airtable, have a look to see how it works (don’t press submit unless it’s a genuine claim please)

Expenses claim on Airtable

Our Website and Social Media

Please do have a look at our Twitter feed and our Facebook page and follow on whichever channels you prefer to use. We ask for your social media names in our registration form so that we establish reciprocal follows.


We use the above channels and a set of template documents for press releases and posters. These will be made available to the relevant volunteers. We do have this A5 flyer available for download and distribution, feel free to spread it far and wide (within Wales). Once we have established that you will definitely be volunteering we can also send you some of these on paper (but not too many as we’re trying to not waste paper as part of our environmental policy).


For this application, we submitted the following – these are DAC policies, not just specific to MaDCaff. If you want to see any, please get in touch with sue@dacymru.com.

        1. Child and Vulnerable Adult
        2. Constitution
        3. Data Protection
        4. Equal Opportunities
        5. Volunteering
        6. Welsh Language
Many Treasures Chorus

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