Community cafe opens after 10 years in making

Photo Neil Cross'Claire Hobson , Community Centre co-ordinator with Charles Wilding, Karen Slavin, Natalie Thomas, Audrey Fairbrother and Joan Thompson at the opening of the community cafe at The Salvation Army's church on Harrington Street, Preston
Photo Neil Cross'Claire Hobson , Community Centre co-ordinator with Charles Wilding, Karen Slavin, Natalie Thomas, Audrey Fairbrother and Joan Thompson at the opening of the community cafe at The Salvation Army's church on Harrington Street, Preston
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A community cafe designed to “bring everybody together” has opened its doors at Preston’s Salvation Army.

The Harrington Street centre opened the volunteer-led “hub” on Monday, with dozens of people dropping in to its first session.

Staff hope the cafe, which is open three days a week, will become an “asset to the community”.

Claire Hobson, community centre co-ordinator at the Salvation Army, said: “The centre has been open 10 years this weekend.

“When they initially designed the centre, a community cafe was an idea they had but it’s only just come about now 10 years later.

“We decided about summer time that we weren’t really reaching out into the community as much as we could do, so we closed our soup kitchen down which was every Friday for the homeless or people in need, and opened a community cafe.

“So it’s not just for the homeless and people in need, it’s the whole community.

“There are a lot of older people who live around us, a lot of students, and we want to bring everybody together and integrate everybody.

“But we are still here for the homeless and people in need.”

Claire said there was a small cost for food and drink in the new cafe, but said vouchers could be given out to people unable to pay.

She said: “We’ll never turn somebody away.
“The idea behind the cafe is to get people into our centre and build relationships with people, because there are a lot of lonely people around us. The money will be going back into the centre, it will be covering the cost of food and the tiny little bit extra will be going into paying for gas and electricity. We’re not here to make a profit, but we want our doors open so we can help people.”

The cafe will be open on a Monday and Wednesday between 10am and 2pm, and from 10am to 12pm on a Tuesday.

Claire said: “Each day we are going to have about six people working, so it gives us at lease two people who can sit and have a chat. We’ve got enough staff to go and have a coffee with somebody, find out why they are coming to us and tell them about the other services we’ve got.”