Basildon Methodist community café

The Community Café, based at Trinity, open from 9.00 am to 3.00 pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, is going from strength to strength. 

The instigator and driving force for this initiative was our departing Deacon Debbie Clarke. It is an outreach service of the Basildon churches to the local community and it is meeting a very obvious need. 

Opened in March last year with a staff of part time volunteers from the three Basildon Methodist churches it was immediately apparent that the kitchen needed modernising to make it more efficient and able to meet health and safety requirements. 

This was achieved by a re-fit carried out last August with the help of a grant from the Circuit, further money was spent on the kitchen to provide new units, cooker, hob, grill, fridges and freezer, flooring and windows. The result was recognised, by all who work in it and buy from it, as a great success. 

Earlier this year the café was awarded the highest “5 Star” rating by the Borough Council for its environment and health and safety practices. There are many regulars who now attend the café, some on both Tuesday and Wednesday. 

It is becoming known in the community more and more and customers include local workers, retired couples, young parents, often with their children, and older men.

 They appreciate the quality of the food and drink and especially the value for money. We provide a very popular all- day breakfast and also more simple healthy options, including jacket potatoes with various fillings. 

In January we advertised for a café manager for 3 days a week to be funded by the Circuit for 3 years. Carol Owens from Trinity started on 1st May and her appointment has already had a significant impact on the café business. 

Customer numbers have increased by around 40%, responding in particular to new specials initiated by Carol. As a result, takings have almost doubled. It is very likely that within the three year period the café will be making sufficient income to cover the manager’s costs.

The latest news is that the café itself is to be upgraded. For many years Trinity has wanted to remove the stage in the hall in which the café is set out. A grant has been obtained from the Veolia Trust based on the work of the café in the community. 

This will cover the cost of the stage removal, reinstatement of flooring, replacement of 50 year old steel window frames and redecoration of the whole area. The new windows will make the café more open as obscure glass is to be replaced with clear glass. 

We welcome all who come to the café and we  try to speak with them whenever we can, providing a listening ear rather than make judgments or offer unasked advice.

There is reading material of different types including for self help, for local agencies and about the churches and their activities. We have formed links with a local child care agency and supported the setting up of a baby, toddler and parent group, responding to a local need. 

We believe we are following God’s call to us to help others, especially those in need of support to make their way in life. With the increase in custom there is a real need for more part time volunteers to help those already committed. 

If you feel you can offer half a day on a regular basis please contact Carol Owens on 01268 553917. You will be assisting with important mission activity and reducing the strain on those who are already involved.

Steve Nice