The vision for the Café project is to work alongside the Rainbow Centre to provide a hub for the community. It creates a warm welcome to residents and centre users, as well as being a place where advice, information and news can be shared.
Aims for the local community:
- Provision of a community hub, a place to meet, build unity and commitment to the local area
- Increased take up of advice and information services enhancing quality of life
- Development of employable skills through volunteering at the café.
- Providing employment opportunities.
- Visual presence for Barnet Community Projects providing a demonstration of our commitment to the local area.
The café started serving drinks and snacks in September 2011, primarily to the Art classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays. In November Ben from Chef Plus approached us to ask if he could setup a small business based in the kitchen at the centre. This was an amazing “coincidence” because we were in the process of planning longer opening hours and trying to work out how we could cater for people. Ben’s experience and skills in food safety meant he could guide us as we sought to set up a good quality café for the community. Being able to offer cooked food was a real bonus.
Over the Christmas break we built the café area and brought the necessary equipment, we also spent quite a long time learning how to make the perfect Latte! The café opened in January with the team of volunteers working hard to provide the warm welcoming environment we were seeking to create. The one thing most people say when they walk into the Arc is “this is a really nice place to come”.
The café has seen a steady increase in custom. It has has worked well as a welcome point for centre users and when we have conferences. One of the benefits of being here daily for the community has been that issues local people are facing have been picked up and that by working with the Rainbow and other partners we have been able to respond. So, for example we have started a youth club because young people have asked for one. We are also responding to other needs and have started a job club, ESOL and I.T. classes. Working in partnership with Barnet Homes and Barnet and Southgate Colleges.