Toothill community cafe celebrates 10th anniversary

Swindon Advertiser: Simon Joliffe at Toothill Community Cafe Simon Joliffe at Toothill Community Cafe

A COMMUNITY cafe in the heart of Toothill is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year – and it’s going from strength to strength.

The Toothill Community Cafe, which became one of the first projects to receive funding from the National Lottery Big Local Grant, moved back to its original home in the community centre exactly a year ago.

It had spent two years operating out of the nearby church, but last January the cafe returned to the centre and is continuing to grow in popularity.

Within 12 months it has gone from opening on Mondays only to opening three times a week, and over the festive period 60 people were served up Christmas dinner in just one sitting.

Trustee Tina Mackie, who has lived in Toothill for 34 years and has been involved with the cafe since it began a decade ago, said: “It has been really, really good, better than we expected.

“I think it is because of the climate and a lot of people are out of employment, they’ve got nowhere to go, nothing to do. We have a laptop that people can come in and use and if people want to be on their own they can, but if they want a friendly face there is always someone here.

“We have lots of regular customers and if they don’t come in one week we all wonder where they are, and someone will go and check they are okay. It’s a great community.

“We are still charging people as little as we can, but we have had to put the prices up ever so slightly for the first time in a year.

“The prices are still very low though and there is nowhere else around here where you can sit and meet your friends for a coffee.”

The cafe is run by volunteers who receive training on the job and can even achieve qualifications to help further their job prospects.

Mum-of-four Victoria Barrett, 26, of Royal Wootton Bassett, is a front-of-house volunteer.

“I’ve been volunteering at the cafe for five months now and it is brilliant. I used to be a home carer but I have been out of work for seven years now, and my confidence was very low when I started here, so it has helped me quite a lot,” she said.

“It is so sociable, everyone is so nice and friendly.”

Chef Simon Joliffe, 45, of Freshbrook, rustles up a number of different dishes each week, ranging from roast dinners and stews, to sausage casserole and chicken curry.

He said: “I love it. It keeps me cooking, which is what I love to do.

“My speciality is Japanese, but I haven’t cooked it at the cafe yet. I think I might try it in the summer.”

The cafe was able to extend its opening hours back in October thanks to a £2,000 grass roots grant from the Co-op and the Community Foundation For Wiltshire and Swindon.

The cafe is open from 9am to 1.30pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays serving breakfasts, snacks and lunches, along with hot drinks and sandwiches.

A lunch club for over 60s is held on Wednesdays and the cafe is hoping more people will attend this year.

For more details of Toothill cafe, or volunteering opportunities, call the cafe on 07944 134 915, email info@toothillcafe.co.uk, visit www.toothillcafe.co.uk or search for Toothill Cafe on Facebook.

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