Community cafe boss hopes to raise public’s aspirations

The new manager of a popular community cafe has pledged to involve more people in its activities as he makes plans to spend a �450,000 lottery grant.

The Meet up Cafe, on Thetford's Redcastle Estate, was previously run by town and Breckland councillor Terry Jermy, who resigned to concentrate further on his political posts.

In his place is Tapiwa Kundoro, who already has big plans for the community centre. They include involving more teenagers with schemes such as a youth council, inviting the elderly to benefit from projects run by younger volunteers, and encouraging parents to become more engaged with family life through events like cooking lessons.

The cafe was set up 18 months ago for 10 to 16-year-olds by the Benjamin Foundation, with �350,000 from the government. The scheme was part of a series of pilots across the country which aimed to 'inspire communities' and raise aspirations.

Earlier this year the Benjamin Foundation was awarded a Big Lottery Fund grant of �450,000 to keep the centre open for another three years, which Mr Kundoro hopes to use for a variety of projects.

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'The funding has got to involve 16 to 18-year-olds so we are thinking about a youth council,' he said. 'We also want to run youth clubs and go into the streets and talk to the young people to find out to see how best we can provide activities for them. We want to make friends with people and let them know we're here for their community.

'I'm also looking at adults maybe coming in and using the computers. Educating the children needs to start with them so adult education has a real role to play.'

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With 157 members aged between 10 and 16, the cafe runs residential trips and classes, including media, cooking and a girls group, and acts as a drop-in centre for youngsters living nearby. Other activities in future could include family cooking sessions and English lessons, which Mr Kundoro hopes will involve the community even further.

'For me Thetford has been interesting because I've always wanted to help out in terms of achievement and attainment and it's a practical way of putting it into practice,' he said.

'I want to raise aspirations but it's people who raise the culture. We've got the funding but without the people it doesn't work. If members of the community want to get more involved they have the opportunity to come in and talk to us. If there are areas they want to help with, we're always looking for people.'

Contact the cafe on 01842 820871 or visit

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