By Vicky Hilton, Community Organiser
I was invited to attend the first planning meeting at St Pauls, with the church and members of the local community. This meeting had been called by the church to help support identified issues within the communities – food and family poverty.
The group was called together to bring solutions to how we may better support families and individuals living in poverty within the area of Masbrough. After several planning meetings and listening’s with other members of the community, the community café was born.
The first few months of setting up the café was training volunteers and local people to use the kitchen, use the correct equipment and get further support and funding. We also spent this time contacting local stores such as Aldi, Lidl and Morrisons to become part of any waste donation schemes so that any food we cooked didn’t cost us any money. We shared roles and responsibilities through the group so that everyone played their part.
Rotherham Federation donated a chest freezer to the group so that we could be thrifty by freezing items such as vegetables, fruit and bread.
I supported Christine Batchford from St Pauls Church/Timebuilders to apply for a community leadership fund after a meeting with local councillors Ian Jones and Eve Rose. I supported Christine with the grant, and we applied as a group for £500. The grant was successful and we were then able to buy equipment such as PPE, chopping boards, utensils and aprons to further support the café.
The café then started running for volunteers, with our volunteers getting used to new equipment, preparing meals and taking on roles and responsibilities. The café ran like this for a number of weeks until we found the group was ready to open the doors to the public. During this time we provided training opportunities for local people to get the skills and qualifications they need to help them in their roles. We provided Food Safety training in January 2019 which 11 members of the café attended. The training was a huge success and the group soon wanted more to help build their skills and expertise. In April 2019 we ran a 1 day First Aid course in which 10 local members attended. This really pushed the group and helped them realise their individual potential as well as what they can achieve in a group.
Over half of the group speak English as a second language and the café has given members the opportunity to build not only their skill set but build confidence and tackle isolation. We have food recipes from Jordan, Iran, Sudan and the UK. By giving people an opportunity to come together we are building relationships and lasting friendships with the community, building support networks and power within the community.
The café is now open to the public and we have over 25 people attend each week. The café runs every Monday evening at St Pauls Church. When out door knocking and working with communities we can sign post families and people who are struggling, to come to the church and enjoy a meal with us. The meal is free, but donations are welcome if individuals are in a position to.