Time for tea at The Salvation Army in Hadleigh

published on 24 Jan 2024

First-time visitors to The Salvation Army’s Tearoom at its Hadleigh Farm Estate may think it is like any other café but, behind the scenes, something wonderful is happening.

The Tearoom was forced to close in early 2020 due to the Covid pandemic and was used as a food distribution hub for the community. When Hadleigh Training Centre reopened fully in May 2021, an opportunity was spotted to completely change the Tearoom model and put the trainees at the forefront of the operation.

Over the following months, trainees put their heads together and devised a Tearoom service which they could deliver. They chose a new menu, new uniforms, a new coffee machine, and new decor; and then set about learning all the skills they would need to keep customers coming back for more. 

Hadleigh Training Centre manager, Lindsay Payne said “The trainees don’t just have a token role in the new Tearoom, they play a part in all necessary tasks. Stock checking, ordering supplies, preparing and serving food and drinks, managing the online booking system and performing back of house duties. They now have the experience to serve in a true hospitality environment and they are excelling at it.”

Hadleigh Trainees
A launch ceremony for the Tearoom was held at The Salvation Army's Hadleigh Farm Estate earlier this week
(Photograph by Kevin Clow)

Lindsay said the project is carrying on the ethos of The Salvation Army to help, train and educate individuals who have experienced difficult times.

She added: “We wanted to give trainees the satisfaction of ownership in terms of responsibility and the tasks they carry out. They are thriving in this environment, and we are seeing immense development in their confidence, problem solving and sense of self-worth. They want everyone to see ‘their’ Tearoom, showing off their skills and serving customers. We are so proud of them and everything they have achieved.”

After a number of successful test openings and the small matter of achieving a five-star hygiene rating, Lindsay and the team at Hadleigh Farm Estate are looking forward to seeing the trainees and the Tearoom continue to develop.

This week, celebrations were held to mark the Tearoom launch and it will now be open to the public from 11am to 2pm on Mondays and Fridays.

Hadleigh Trainees 2
The trainees play a part in all necessary tasks, including preparing and serving drinks
(Photograph by Kevin Clow)

Major Howard Russell leads The Salvation Army in the East of England and said he was delighted to be at the launch.

He said: “It’s a joy to open the Tearoom. Everything the trainees have done to get here is amazing. I’m proud of all they achieved.”

There are plans to extend the opening hours to include Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in the near future. Online booking is essential. To book a table and for more information, visit www.salvationarmy.org.uk/hadleighfarm/tearoom

A Salvation Army volunteer wearing a red puffer jacket delivers a care package to an older woman

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