Diocese of Portsmouth

    New cafe aims to foster community spirit

    2 April 2024

    IT’S an ideal place to meet, to eat and to connect with others in the community.

    The new Host Café, based at St Luke’s Church in Southsea, aims to be thriving hub for students, those working in central Portsmouth, and local residents. It offers decent coffee, sandwiches, salads and home-made cakes, among other delicious items on the menu.

    Worshippers have turned their church hall into this new café, complete with authentic coffee machine, atmospheric lighting and comfy chairs. It will be open from 9am to 3:30pm, Monday to Thursday.

    It will give some much-needed experience to young people and volunteers who can learn about catering and café management. And it should also be a showcase for artwork created by pupils at the neighbouring Charter Academy. All profits will be re-invested into the community.

    It’s all part of a wider project to make St Luke’s Church, hall, car park and gardens into a more welcoming space for those who live, work and study in the centre of the city. The development of the hall came after major work to repair and conserve the church’s roof, gutters and windows, and to refurbish the internal worship area to create a co-working space.

    The vicar, the Rev Annie McCabe, said: “We wanted it to be run as a proper commercial café, so we’ve appointed a manager and an assistant, brought a really good coffee machine, and tried to make sure that everything we do is high quality.

    “We’ve been open for a couple of weeks and our customers include those who work in the church, students living in the blocks of flats around us, congregation members, and people from the local community. Various groups, such as the police and city council want to use the café as a base to discuss issues with local residents.

    “We already have some young people from The Foyer, which is next door, who are learning about the business as volunteers. We’d love to be able to have an apprentice, who can train here as part of a vocational course, based here each year.

    “In the summer, we’ll have tables and chairs in the garden, which has already been revamped, and we hope that will be a great place for people to sit and chat in the fresh air.”

    The Host Cafe, which has been created within St Luke's Church in Southsea
    There is food and drink for those of all ages in the Host Cafe
    Kim is one of the young people who is working at The Host Cafe in Southsea
    The Rev Annie McCabe chats to customers in The Host Cafe in St Luke's church hall

    The project was helped by a £35,000 Community Infrastructure Levy grant from Portsmouth City Council. Turnquay Construction, based in the city, managed the project, and they also received help from Enerveo, Portsea Men’s Shed, Studio BAD, Tesco and Portsmouth Creates.

    Liz Jones was appointed as the manager and Jan Saidy as her assistant. Volunteers come from the university, The Hive, Portsmouth Foyer, and the City of Sanctuary to help out. And a Go Fund Me page has been created to raise money for an apprentice, who can be given barista training and customer service skills.

    Students from Charter Academy have already created some ceramic tiles to be displayed in the café, and will create giant murals for the walls next.

    Meanwhile, the Host Space, which offers sole workers the chance to work alongside each other and collaborate will continue within St Luke’s Church itself. And the Portsmouth Pathway, which used to use the hall for regular theological study, will also meet in the church. The café’s existence now means that professional catering can be provided for regular meetings and one-off conferences.

    For more details, see; www.stlukessouthsea.church and www.thehostspace.co.uk.

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    St Luke's Southsea

    www.stlukessouthsea.church, PO5 4LH

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