Throughout January there has been, and will continue to be, a “pay-as-you-feel” pop-up cafe on Matilda Street in Sheffield. The cafe is a collaborative project between the student and graduate run Foodhall Sheffield and Camerados, an organisation that helps to develop small businesses with vulnerable people, the project has also had input from SASS (Sheffield Alcohol Support Service) and the Samaritans.
Foodhall are a “freecycling” organisation ran by students and graduates, they collect surplus and unused donations from places including supermarkets, restaurants, cafe’s etcetera, and with the food that would have otherwise gone to waste they make meals and serve them in their cafe. The system helps reduce food wastage, which is still a massive problem especially in the Western world, as well as providing hot meals for people who may not have been able to afford to eat otherwise. The “pay-as-you-feel” system works exactly as it says, there are jars left on the tables around the cafe and people can leave as much or as little money as they feel. They are currently based in a disused warehouse space and all of the furniture has been donated, freecyled or upcycled.
As mentioned earlier, Camerados help people who are experiencing difficult times such as addiction, domestic violence, homelessness, mental health issues, to set up “micro-businesses” based on their particular skill sets and also the local market. The turnover is rapid as it is a 6 day programme ran over 5 weeks and helps to develop self esteem and team-working skills as well as providing experience and, in the most successful cases, jobs.
There are several slightly “radical” ideas that Camerados are looking at in the form of some slightly thought provoking questions such as;
What if Scouts worked in prisons? What if prostitutes looked after my kids? What if homeless people helped bankers through their tough time? What if Samaritans ran Starbucks?
This last question is what brought about the Pop-up cafe. The thought process is that, during a crisis or a difficult time in, most people go to meet friends or family in either a pub, bar or cafe and chat about what’s going on in their lives. So, along with the guys at Foodhall, they decided to set up a “comfort spot” where people can go for cheap food, hot drinks, music, games and things to entertain their kids. Throw in some super friendly staff who are on hand to chat or help out or just to listen and not judge and you’ve got an idea of what it’d be like if Samaritans ran Starbucks.
The menu changes daily depending on what food has been donated but is always of a high standard and I can personally vouch for it’s deliciousness as I’ve been in several times since it has been open both as a volunteer and as a customer.
After spending a few days helping out it soon became abundantly clear how much of a fantastic project this is, from watching a homeless lady who hadn’t played piano since school play a duet with Maff, founder of Camerados (Click here for video), to receiving little notes like this…
…it’s obvious that the cafe is having a positive impact on the Sheffield’s local population.
The cafe is still in need of volunteers and donations as it will be running Tuesday-Saturday 10am-3pm until Saturday 30th January so if anyone would like to get involved please get in touch at any of the links below…