Stoke Climsland Cafe

A pop up café run by members of Stoke Climsland Church has gone from strength to strength since it first opened its doors 18 months ago.

Up to 60 people a week enjoy a selection of homemade cakes, quiches and sausage rolls produced by the volunteers and enjoy a steady supply of teas and coffees, all given free of charge.

The idea came about when two ladies from a fellowship group within Stoke Climsland Church put forward the idea of a community café to their priest in charge, The Revd Tony Stephens. The idea then followed to hold it within the village hall and not the church building, making it more accessible for people in the wider community.

The aim of the café is to support the local community through the Christian faith. Barbara Bennett, one of the organisers of the café, said: “We don’t ‘pump’ Christianity at all; we just live it.”

Everything in the café is free of charge with donations welcome. Barbara went on to say: “If people give us a smile or £5 it doesn’t really matter, people donate what they wish or choose but you do in general find that people want to give.”

The café runs from 9am to 12.30pm every Tuesday, 52 weeks of the year, with one recent week attracting 75 people. On arrival people are greeted with a hand shake or a hug and a listening ear. Barbara added: “Various people who come in regularly have said the feeling of friendliness and genuine warmth is very different to elsewhere.”

For the first six months the café was open it was usually members of the church attending. But gradually members of the wider community started popping in including some of the students from nearby Duchy College, the local school and pre-school.

Now the café is running at a profit and the volunteers plan to donate the money to charity once they have reached a certain amount. Barbara said: “The emphasis is on the café serving the local community and sometimes it is nice to give back to other areas of the community.”

The café has also helped to grow the church with three new people joining the congregation. “Because they know a face when they come into the church it is not such a big step to make”, said Barbara. They have also found that more people within the church are becoming actively involved than previously.

The members of the Stoke Climsland team are Barbara, Anne, Helen, Patsy, Diane, Chrys, Heather, Carol, Rosemarie, Pam and Jane. Barbara added that the team “all work so hard and it is due to their commitment and dedication, to say nothing of their faith that the café is so amazingly successful. They deserve such a big thank you.”

Barbara’s advice to any churches thinking of running a pop up café is “do it! It is jolly hard work and you do need the volunteers to be committed, reliable and wiling but it is one of the most worthwhile outreaches that you can do. You’re not preaching Christianity you are just living it.”