Popular café at St Stephens prepares to re-open
The café at St Stephen’s in Rampant Horse Street, Norwich, a place of sanctuary and care as well as hospitality, will be reopening on Monday July 27.
Before the lockdown around 900 people a week were enjoying the café’s renowned soups, rolls and wraps. In preparation for the re-opening, the café is taking time to train its volunteers and to ensure that safety measures are in place, which will include a queueing system, Perspex screens and a limited menu.
For many visitors, the café is not just a meeting point, but a place of sanctuary. Those who are unable to afford the minimum £1 donation are able to eat for free. The motto is: “Eat, drink, share, pay what you know is fair.”
“If someone is having a tough time, either a customer or a member our volunteer staff, there is always someone around to reach out to,” said Charlotte Snell, who is an intern at the café.
The cafe first opened in 1990 to raise money for the Vidal Trust, a charity which serves the poor in South India. Due to its popularity it remained open and became a long-term feature of St Stephen’s. It is staffed by three dedicated managers and a team of over fifty volunteers.
The cafe has been a vital point of contact with homeless people and those suffering addictions. Clare Melia, the church’s community worker, is around throughout the week and is there for anyone who wants help or just needs a chat. Having the café in the building provides a safe space for her to do her work and allows her clients to have a hot drink and meal.
The church building reopened on weekdays at the start of June for private prayer for up to 10 people at a time and then on Sunday July 12 for communion.
Pictured above are some of the team at St Stephen’s café.