David Latto on how a Bakers Arms café is building a healthy community
The Gleaners is a ‘pay-what-you-feel’ community café based at The Hornbeam Centre in Bakers Arms.
We are not-for-profit and use surplus produce – quality ingredients that would otherwise go to waste – to make tasty, plant-based meals. Everyone is welcome.
We feel that everybody should have access to healthy, social-eating spaces, and that these need not be segregated based on economic circumstance. Our vision is to create a truly inclusive, mixed space, fuelled by a vibrant local economy rather than being dependent on funding.
In other words, our pay-what-you-feel model is dependent on solidarity from those who can pay a little more to buffer those who have limited means. Think of it as a collaboration, as mutual aid, where everyone contributing what they can adds up to create a community cafe shared by all.
Since the start of the pandemic last March, we have served more than 30,000 meals, mostly for free, to those across our community. Early on, during the first lockdown, we were generously kept afloat by a successful crowdfunder that eventually raised £10,000.
But now we are struggling. And now is the time for us to become sustainable. People often ask us how they can support us to keep doing what we do. Our answer is simply to come and buy some lunch from us! It’s tasty, and participation – both social and economic – is fundamental to our model.
The Gleaners began in June 2019 as a small team running the cafe two days a week, but since February 2020 we have been running the cafe daily as a small, independent workers’ co-operative supported by an amazing and ever-growing team of local volunteers. Without this incredible voluntary effort, we wouldn’t have been able to support our community in the way that we have through the pandemic, continuing to encompass the values of our model while adapting to change.
With the restrictions London is under at time of writing, we are operating as a take-away only service, open from 12pm-3pm every day, except Sunday. We serve lunch, coffee, teas, homemade drinks and cakes.
We also run a surplus grocery stall from the cafe on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. And if you can’t make it over to the cafe at the moment, get in touch or check our social media to see other ways you can contribute.
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