Since last November, a group of about 20 volunteers from two Falmouth churches – New Street and All Saints – have been running a popular weekly ‘Winter Warm Space Café’ on Wednesday afternoons – based at the latter venue – welcoming a wide range of local people for hot drinks, crisps, biscuits, fruit and homemade cakes, specially baked for these occasions.

There’s even a toast station, liberally supplied with jams and honey.

“It’s a real joint effort between the two congregations,” organiser Bianca Parry explains. “It’s really lovely actually.”

Between 40 and 50 people come along each week. They range in ages from young children through to the elderly.

“We get quite a lot of young families,” Bianca says. “We get lots of mums with their kids, older people, people with disabilities, people who want to see the church, and people who just want to make a connection with other people. It’s a lovely friendly atmosphere. It feels like a real café. It’s all about the hospitality.

“Some people come in straight after school, which is nice. Some come in with their laptops to work – though not so many, as it can be a bit noisy with the kids running around! Some want to talk a bit deeper about things. But mostly it’s about opening up the church and welcoming people in – making it a place that people feel comfortable to come into.”

They have, in particular, attracted quite a few people from the parish’s play group and parenting classes.

“We have people who come every week. They tell their friends about it. There’s a lot of word-of-mouth,” Bianca says. “Some have had nothing to do with the church before. Some have now started to come to church.”

Fruitful, sustainable and intergenerational

The warmth of the friendship, fellowship, tea and toast offered at All Saints has proven a winning combination.

“The vision is to be intergenerational,” Bianca adds. “It’s really nice having the older folk interacting with the kids and younger people.”

Ross, a local dad who comes along regularly with his young child, has commended the atmosphere generated by these café gatherings: “It’s a beautiful space – very warm and inviting.”

Visitors are invited, should they wish, to make a contribution to the costs of running these events. They can put as much or as little as they like into the jar, as much as they might be able to afford, or indeed nothing at all.

People have been very generous. Earlier this month, the All Saints café’s organisers were able to donate £100 to a community fridge initiative that’s recently been started by the Fairwinds Community Hub in Falmouth.

The Winter Warm Space Café received initial seed-funding from the Diocese of Truro to support its heating and food costs, but it now looks like it will be able to sustain itself beyond the seasonal period for which it had originally been envisaged.

“The aim is now that is can run itself in the long term,” Bianca says. “We started it as a warm winter space, but it’s taken on its own life. Everyone loves it – we couldn’t stop it now even if we wanted to!”