Church opens new community café to support families struggling with cost of living

St Johns Community Cafe

Lord Salisbury cutting the cake to officially open the community café at St Johns church. - Credit: Dan Mountney

A Hatfield church opened its new community café on Friday in a bid to support people struggling with the cost of living crisis.

The café was unveiled at St John's Church in High View, with patron Lord Salisbury cutting a cake and saying a few words to signify the opening of the facility.

The church’s vicar, Reverend Andrew Gardner, is the man behind the project and is delighted to finally be able to welcome the community in South Hatfield.

“We are very pleased and It’s been a lot of hard work to get the community café open,” he said.

“We first had the idea nearly two years ago, but then a small thing called the pandemic came along, so we had to figure things out as we went along.

St Johns Community Cafe

St Johns vicar, Reverend Andrew Gardner, speaks during the opening of the café. - Credit: Dan Mountney

“We are delighted though and it’s so good to see the community pulling together to provide this and help others out.”

South Hatfield is among the most deprived areas in the town, and Rev'd Gardner is keen to help and give back to the community that helped build St John's more than 60 years ago.

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"The church was consecrated in 1960 and was part of the what was a classic post-war community,” he said.

“This area was built for the workers at the de Havilland factory and their families. People had their names down to move here and it was a dream to move to a detached house with a garden for the children.

“When this church was built, people purchased a brick and it became the church for the community, built by the community. It's such a key part of this area, so we want it to be a vehicle to help the community and easy for people to access.”

St Johns Church

St John's was built by the community in South Hatfield in the 1960s. - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Rev'd Gardener is hoping the new community café will see more people come to the church for help as they struggle with the cost of living crisis.

“We have a connection with the local primary school and the foodbank so they see more than us, but they tell us about the families who struggle to feed their children,” he said.

“This was happening before the pandemic, but now with inflation, the cost of living and fuel crisis it has got so much worse.

“We’ve not really seen an increase in people coming directly to the church for help, but we want them to know we are here for them. I’m absolutely sure that people know we are here and we have the community café, they will come to us more.”