Sparks café: 'We just need our community to come and the rest will take care of itself'
- Credit: Sparks
A community café supporting homeless people and those on low incomes offers much more than a cup of tea. It saves lives.
You might think drumming up customers is a piece of cake for Sparks Community Café and Hub in Queensway, Hatfield - but it’s not.
A project run by drugs and alcohol recovery service Resolve, which provides support across the county including from its centres in Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield, Sparks is dedicated to the memory of former Welwyn Hatfield mayor Lynne Sparks.
Since COVID-19 it has been hit in the pocket, running at a loss since March last year. It serves food for ‘pay what you can’ donations, as well as gives meals to homeless clients and visitors who need them.
They also have a couple of community groups in their back room, which are rented for low fees of donations.
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Joe Heeney, founder and chief executive officer of Resolve, is keen to attract customers who will be helping the wider community by spending their money locally.
Joe said: “The café has been struggling ever since the virus started. But we have been fortunate enough to secure various grants to keep open.
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“The more people come, the more people we can help. Why pay £3 for a coffee from a large business, when you can donate as little as a £1 at Sparks and it is going to a good cause? For £3.50, you can get coffee and a piece of cake.
“We need to see more people from our community coming, just like they did before coronavirus. Sparks was a wonderful, vibrant, busy place with people coming in the week for coffee, cake, breakfast and lunch. On the weekends we do a Sunday roast. We have other special menu items on when we can too.”
Anyone interested in volunteering can be trained in food hygiene and awarded a certificate, which they can use to help them gain employment, along with their work experience.
Joe added: “We hope people will want to come and enjoy our café, knowing they are donating to a local charity, supporting local people. A community hub - set up in the community, for the community. We just need our community to come and the rest will take care of itself.”