The community café offers cheap and nutritious food. It is open two days a week, serving breakfast and lunch from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm every Wednesday and Thursday — meat and vegetarian options are available. The café is run by local volunteers who plan the menu, cook the dishes and serve. We need volunteers to help run the café and to take a lead on other activities held within the project. There are opportunities for volunteers to acquire new skills and training, and to utilise skills that they already have. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the project co-ordinator on 0113 242 8455.
The café is in many ways the heart of AHCP, and is seen by those running the project as an opportunity to welcome in and engage with local Hyde Park residents. The café offers ‘healthy eating’ as a grounding for other ‘healthy living’ activities provided by AHCP, described below.
The ethnic mix and age of customers is extremely diverse, and bears out the fact that everyone is made to feel welcome at the café. People regularly comment not just on the cheapness and good value of the food, but also on its good quality, confirming that the café is succeeding in producing healthy food. The café is clean and light, and there is comfortable space for five tables each seating four people. The tables are attractively presented, with bright tablecloths and (on some days) fresh-cut flowers.
The café is recognised as a meeting point for local people. Unlike an advice centre, people feel that they can come to the café without needing to have a reason other than to get something to eat or drink and to see who else is there. ‘There’s nothing like it locally’, one café user said, and ‘This is the best thing that’s happened locally for years.’
The café is reached though the main door of the All Hallows buildings, but it can be entered without any need to go into the church worship space. This physical arrangement is reinforced by the complete — and much appreciated — lack of preaching or religious influence served with the meals. One user said, ‘I came for three weeks just waiting for someone to talk to me about God so that I could walk out — but no-one did, and I’m still coming!’
And despite — or because of — the absence of references to God, people say that they feel at home. Comments have included: ‘I come here because I know I will be treated with respect, as an equal’; and ‘I feel uplifted when I’ve been here’. Interestingly, some people don’t see a distinction between the work of the church and the café itself. When they are asked about what the café provides for local people, they may well talk about work done by the church and its vicar (such as funerals and informal listening/counselling). All Hallows Church sees no distinction between activities taking place in church premises on Sunday and on any other day of the week, and this vision seems to be borne out by the reactions of those who are using the premises.
Here are some of the cafe crew having a well earned break!