22/09/2023

United Living donation helps to give community cafe a new lease of life

group standing in front of community cafe

The Mayor of East Grinstead, Cllr Frazer Visser, recently cut the ribbon to open the doors to the new location for a community café and food pantry in Stone Quarry.

The Quarry Café and Community Fridge started life six years ago as a community café, but it expanded after the pandemic hit, collecting surplus food from local supermarkets and creating ready meals to share with local people who needed support.

Its future was uncertain after the team learned that they needed to vacate their Holtye Avenue premises, but thanks to collaboration between a number of local partners, the café has a new home in the former Post Office on Hollands Way.

Clarion Futures, the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group, has contributed £27,000 in funding to pay for equipment and contribute towards running costs. United Living, also contributed to the project through Clarion’s social value programme, donating time and building materials worth around £30,000 to help turn what was once an empty shell into a warm and welcoming space.

Mid Sussex District Council has agreed a 30-year lease for the building which had been empty for several years, with the first five years free of charge to help the social enterprise to get off the ground and continue providing support for Stone Quarry residents and the wider East Grinstead area.

The project has also been supported by East Grinstead Town Council which has, for the last year or so, provided an office space for the Quarry Café and Community Fridge team to use rent free.

As a result of this partnership working, the old Post Office building has been transformed into a light, contemporary space filled with state-of-the-art café equipment and colourful modern furniture. The Quarry Café and Community Fridge provides a place for local people to meet up and enjoy quality food and drink at affordable prices. It also helps to prevent food waste by collecting surplus food, sharing it amongst the wider community and making meals for those who need a helping hand.

Molly Hewett, Social Value Partner, United Living, said: “At United Living, we take pride in making a positive, sustainable contribution to the communities and environment in which we work. It was a pleasure supporting the community café and food pantry, which provides a brilliant service for residents”.

Phil Miles, Director of Clarion Futures, said: “The Quarry Café and Community Fridge makes such a difference for local people, so we were delighted to contribute towards the refurbishment of its new home on Hollands Way. By bringing in United Living through our social value programme we’ve been able to double our funding for this fantastic project, and we’re looking forward to seeing it go from strength to strength.”

Cllr Alison Bennett, Deputy Leader of Mid Sussex District Council, said: “I am delighted to see the new community café and food pantry open which I know has been a significant support to residents. The new location safeguards the long-term future of this community facility and I am glad that it can remain in the heart of the community for Stone Quarry residents and the wider East Grinstead area.”

Cllr Frazer Visser, Mayor of East Grinstead, said: “I was delighted to open the café and community fridge which has supported so many residents during the pandemic and through the ongoing living cost rises. The Quarry Café is such a great example of sustainable community development and it is wonderful to have it in our town.”

Sarah Howland, Director and Executive Manager of the Quarry Café and Community Fridge, said: “It has been a long journey, but we have now opened the door to this fabulous new space which has been made possible thanks to the support and commitment that others have shown us. We’re immensely grateful to Mid Sussex District Council for offering us this space, with a helping hand on the lease that will help us settle in. Funding from Clarion Futures has helped us to turn what was an empty shell of a building into a modern, functional and welcoming space. And last but certainly not least, the commitment of all our volunteers and directors who have held everything together, going above and beyond to keep our service going and picking up tools to help finish this building. The saying is true, teamwork makes the dream work – this place is the dream and you are all the team. Thank you.”

The Quarry Café and Community Fridge on Hollands Way is open from Tuesday to Friday between 10:30am and 4pm. To find out more visit www.facebook.com/QCCommunityFridge.

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