The café, which is supported by Abri, celebrated five years of serving locally sourced food and drink at affordable prices and initiatives aimed at giving something back to the community; volunteer opportunities, training, education and job support, health and wellbeing activities and projects to reduce social isolation, anti-social behaviour and fly tipping and littering.
The celebrations saw a huge turnout – volunteers, customers, staff, Abri’s CEO Gary Orr and Ralph Facey, Executive Director – Operations – to share stories, cut cake and give thanks to the volunteers and staff who make the café possible.
Ralph Facey, Executive Director – Operations said: “When we had an empty unit in Mansbridge we were faced with a head-scratching moment. Do we convert the space into an apartment? Maybe rent it to a local business? Or see if we can give something back to the community instead…how about a café?
“Unemployment levels in the area were high and community spirit was low following the closure of the Ford Factory. But local support for a social space was clear from the start.”
“A dedicated steering group of local residents and Abri staff worked to develop the project – they decided the décor, menu and the name. Abri’s Technical Services team gave their expertise, advice and two apprentices to complete the refurbishment; and a local resident even put pen to paper and designed the iconic teacup logo for us.”
Since opening, the café has:
The Café also provides free wi-fi, free access to laptops and printing, and support from staff to get online, set-up emails and search for jobs. The Café’s supporters also work to tackle wider issues such as social isolation by setting up initiatives such as the Gardening Club, the Heritage Lottery funded TRANSITion Project, Parental support courses and ‘One for the Pot’, which invites customers buying a drink to purchase an extra one for someone else, when they need it.
Gary Orr, Abri’s CEO, said: “Mansbridge is where it all began for our organisation. We point back to the history, success and vibrancy of this community. You can still see traces of that throughout our organisation in terms of our commitment to housing people but also supporting communities and helping them to thrive.”
“It is an absolute honour and a privilege to come down here and hear your stories. This clearly is the heart of the community – bacon sandwiches often are at the heart of the community!”
Read our Five Year Review to discover how this little community cafe has grown into a bustling hub of activity, working to benefit our customers and the wider community here.
Published 1 November 2018