A place to meet, a home-made meal and friendships old and new.
Our Methodist Church is based in the heart of Clifton, and it was for some time our dream to serve the community in a way that would bring all ages together, and hopefully see new friendships being formed. We talked for some time of opening a Community Café.
Our prayers were answered and we were shortlisted for a grant from the Coalfield Regeneration Trust, and were granted enough to install a new commercial kitchen which we opened in 2010. We began slowly with about 40 people coming to the café, but then word got around and we now average 80 people attending, from a base of about 110 people. We open every Monday except Bank Holidays, and 5 weeks in the summer and have a team of volunteers. Our volunteers are not all church members, but we also receive a lot of help from local people who work in the kitchen helping with the preparation and cooking of meals and some serving people, etc.
All our food is cooked using fresh meat, vegetables, fish, fruit, etc. Each week we provide a different 3 course meal of home made soup, main course and dessert. We also have a choice of sandwiches, salads, jacket potatoes, toasties, etc. Some elderly people prefer a smaller portion and we provide this at a discount and also have a price list especially for children's meals.
The church is not allowed to profit at all from the café We obviously have to pay the church for the cost of gas and electricity which we use and the cost of groceries. We also have a lovely Christmas dinner each December before we close for the Christmas period.
We have all ages from young mothers, with babies and toddlers to people in their 90's. We also have 2 or 3 groups of people with learning difficulties who come with their carers. This has been a delight to us, as we have seen some of these people blossom from being quiet and reserved, to being able to have a conversation with us and other customers.
We have one man who comes from a nearby town and has to catch 3 different buses to get to us. His wife died some years ago and he says the journey, followed by a meal, then a journey back to his home town helps him to pass a day on and have someone to talk to.
We had one lady who was a regular customer brought along by her son. We were saddened when she went into a care home and thought we would lose touch with her, but her son still brings her to the café each week. We have a number of middle aged ladies who are widowed and they have come to know each other at the café and have formed friendships.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
We obviously have to keep a reserve in hand for emergencies, but we prefer to keep the price of our meals affordable. After 6 years some of our equipment is tired and worn, and our reserve fund was depleted recently when our industrial freezer broke down. We had to pay a very large amount for it to be repaired.
If we are fortunate enough to be awarded a grant, we will be able to replace some items of equipment sooner than we had anticipated.
"At the Cornerstone Café you are always assured of a genuine welcome and some lovely good (and a bit of humour thrown in!).
David Morris, café customer."
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