Search

‘Closer to a sanctuary than a café’ - Community city centre café to reopen

PUBLISHED: 06:30 09 July 2020

Sally Clarke, who volunteers in the St Stephen's Church cafe on Rampant Horse Street in Norwich, serving customers. Picture: Joe Lenton

Sally Clarke, who volunteers in the St Stephen's Church cafe on Rampant Horse Street in Norwich, serving customers. Picture: Joe Lenton

Original Art Photography by Joe Lenton

A city centre café which serves up to 900 people a week and acts as a “sanctuary” for the community has announced its reopening plans.

(from left) Maureen Ringwood, a volunteer at the St Stephen's Church cafe on Rampant Horse Street, Norwich, alongside cafe manager Beckie Ward. Picture: Sophie Wyllie(from left) Maureen Ringwood, a volunteer at the St Stephen's Church cafe on Rampant Horse Street, Norwich, alongside cafe manager Beckie Ward. Picture: Sophie Wyllie

The café inside St Stephen’s Church, on Rampant Horse Street in Norwich, will open for the first time since lockdown started on Monday, July, 27.

It serves drinks and hot food, from soup to wraps, for which customers pay an amount they think is fair, with guidelines prices suggested.

St Stephen's church on Rampant Horse Street in Norwich. PHOTO: SIMON FINLAYSt Stephen's church on Rampant Horse Street in Norwich. PHOTO: SIMON FINLAY

For those who cannot afford to pay the minimum donation, £1, they are able to eat and drink for free.

The café acts as “sanctuary”, as well as providing a place “where people can belong and find safety and rest”, its team says.

Charlotte Snell, intern responsible for digital media, said: “It’s more than a café serving food and drink. It is a sanctuary where people can grow relationships. And if someone is having a tough time, either a customer or our volunteer staff, they can come and get support. There is always someone around to reach out to.

You may also want to watch:

“It is a really important café and a real hub of the community. We’ve had lots of people pop in and ask if it is open and for our regular customers, it is an important space.”

The decision to open the café at the end of July is due to staff needing time to prepare to ensure it is Covid-19 secure.

Miss Snell, 19, from Norwich, said: “The church building opened at the start of June for private prayer for up to 10 people and then on this Sunday we are having communion with limited numbers.

“We didn’t want to open everything up at once and, instead, wanted to take it step by step. We also wanted to make sure all the volunteers who worked at the café were trained in time.

“I’m really happy we’re reopening as I think it’s great what we’re doing and I can’t wait to provide a sanctuary again.”

Measures put in place for safety ahead of reopening include a queueing system and Perspex screens.

The cafe first opened in 1990 to raise money for a charity in India, but due to its popularity it remained open and since then has served around 900 people a week.

It closed once before, from 2011 to 2014, while the church was undergoing major refurbishment.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press