What to say about Real Hope Café? Well, the facts are I had a rather tasty, spicy chicken, salad sandwich and a good hot cuppa coffee. It was delicious, good value for money, and you should all go.
But that’s only a fraction of what happened, and it really wouldn’t do justice to the time I spent with the people at Real Hope, the ethos behind the café and what makes this space a real jewel in the crown for the local community.
Since it opened late last year, the social enterprise based in the recently extended church building at St Luke’s, Malvern Road, LS11 8PD, has given pride, purpose and of course hope, to 20 asylum seekers and refugees from 7 different nations, by providing training and volunteering opportunities.
Inspired by the desire to help others, founders chef, Arash Kourjani, along with friend and mentor, Phil Thomas, used their combined knowledge of volunteer management, and cross-cultural communication to create a safe space for refugees and asylum seekers to integrate with the local community. An opprtunity to develop new friendships, gain confidence with the language, learn transferable skills, and build self-esteem, leading to paid work.
Refugees and asylum seekers often have to resort to cash in hand jobs, with little or no long-term prospects. They’re frequently taken advantage of, working long hours for little pay. The ambition of Real Hope is that the support system they offer will be a happier route to employment for many.
Before the café came along, some members of the team hadn’t had much interaction with British people, and they felt isolated which affected their mental health and wellbeing. One young man, staying at a hotel for asylum seekers, catches two buses to volunteer, and his enthusiasm for good customer service shines through.
While I was there, it was encouraging to see a member of staff being helped with a job application form. It’s clear, Arash, Phil and Alistair, the vicar at St Luke’s, want people to thrive and progress, and that’s the overarching sense I got.
And of course, they want you to enjoy the great selection of food and drink. Chatting to regular, Greg, he described Arash as “an artist with food!” and as I looked around, there were many clean plates, mine included.
For those of you, who want to get out of the house, meet friends or new people while supporting a local enterprise Real Hope could be just the place for you.
Although based in a church, people of all faiths or none, are welcomed. There’s always someone on hand to have a chat with and pass the time of day.
Take away, outside catering, and small events can be accommodated in-house.
- Monday 7:30am-2:30pm
- Tuesday: closed
- Wednesday: 12-12:30pm
- Thursday: 7:30am-2:30pm
- Friday: 7:30am-2:30pm
- Saturday, Sunday: closed
Whilst you’re here, can we ask a favour?
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