The Salvation Army is committed to the area and has looked at what provision would be useful – consulting with the neighbourhood police, local schools, the food bank, and other community leaders. We had initially hoped to begin our youth and community project at Sidmouth Youth Centre but now the local town council will be running this. We are dedicated to caring for people who are vulnerable or in need, and it is felt a community café would fit the bill. The organisation would look to work alongside these organisations to support people in the Sidmouth area but it needs to find a venue in the centre of the community and would love to hear from you if you think you could help.
Major Ian Harris, The Salvation Army’s divisional leader for the South West, said: “As a community- focused charity which has been running for 150 years we have a range of expertise in this area, are dedicated to caring for people who are vulnerable or in need, and are there when people need us offering compassionate support, a listening ear, and practical help for people of all faiths or none, with no discrimination.
“People could expect a warm and friendly welcome, expert and effective services, which would be open to all. There will always be a warm welcome for anyone simply needing a listening ear or someone to chat with.
“We have had a very positive response from the community about this idea but we just need to find a suitable location in Manstone or Woolbrook for the café. We are hoping the cafe would be located in the centre of the community. So please do get in touch with us if you think your business could help.”
The café would serve simple, wholesome food and it is hoped would be open to the public six days a week. The Salvation Army would also look to offer cookery workshops so people can learn new skills, as well as learn about healthy eating on a budget. It would also look to work with the local food bank. It is hoped that in time it would be possible for The Salvation Army to offer accredited learning in practical skills for young people.
Head teacher of Sidmouth Primary School, Paul Walker, said: “We would love to support this project and any other type of community work in the town, especially in the Woolbrook area. We have noticed quite a change in the needs of our community over recent years. Many more families are in need of support both financially as well as pastorally. There is a shortage of community facilities in this area.
“We are aware of a number of families who would also benefit from practical support to manage ‘family life’, particularly organising meal times and being good neighbours. As a school we would welcome any community initiatives like this.”
Sid Valley Food Bank Manager, Lois Swarbrick, said: “Many of the families we support are from the Woolbrook area, although the Food Bank can provide food to our clients we would welcome the opportunity to work with this charity to help our families learn to cook on a budget. This is such an important part of money management.
“Because the Community Cafe would be in the heart of Woolbrook, the charity would be in a perfect position to refer clients to the Food Bank who have perhaps not accessed our support before. We really hope that the Salvation Army are able to find a suitable location soon.
If you think you or your business would have suitable venue for The Salvation Army’s community café in Manstone or Woolbrook please get in touch with Major Richard Mingay on 01392 822110.