Use spare capacity in your church, charity, community centre, library, bookshop or other venue to create a vibrant and welcoming environment that people will really enjoy visiting. Whether it’s a pop-up café just one day a week or a permanent installation open every day we can help you get up and running quickly and easily.
Community Cafés have a special ethos of providing welcoming, supportive, safe, neutral, accessible and affordable places for everyone regardless of their situation or circumstances. Their relaxed and informal nature can contribute to improving the lives and wellbeing of those who are less-able, less-mobile, isolated, on low income or disadvantaged in some way and help them to be better supported and more integrated in society.
Our approach helps you exploit spare capacity in community buildings and harness a volunteer workforce with the outcome of enhancing the lives of other people. We provide complete packages of advice, equipment, training and on-going support to help you turn the space you have available into a vibrant community café or community-oriented coffee bar or coffee shop.
A café is generally considered to be a place serving coffee and other beverages, cakes, pastries, sandwiches and other light meals. Cafés have become important places of relaxation and refuge in society – people come to read, write, work, study, talk and generally pass the time either in groups or individually. It is like an informal club for regular or new customers to meet. Community cafés aim to provide extend this social interaction but in a more accessible and supportive way than a high street café where customers actually rarely interact with each other outside their own family or friendship group.
In urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg’s book The Great Good Place he suggests that to have a healthy existence, people should live their lives within three realms or ‘places’. The first place is the home, the second is work and the “third place” is somewhere separate from the other two where the person can be more “anchored” in community life. He argues that the Third Place is important for society by establishing a ‘sense of place’ for people. The characteristics he suggests a true Third Place should have are:
- Free or inexpensive
- Food and drink (not essential but important)
- Highly accessible (within walking distance)
- Involve regulars – those who frequently visit there
- Welcoming and comfortable
- Both new friends and old should be found there
At BeanBag we believe that a community café can provide all these characteristics not only for the customers but for people working there as well, especially those working voluntarily. By establishing a true sense of place within their community, people’s lives can be greatly improved.
Commercial cafés are prioritised towards profit and their customers do not typically interact. In contrast, a Community Café is not-for-profit and uses the attraction of good quality and inexpensive food and drink in an informal and welcoming setting to bring diverse people together, especially those in need and those who can voluntarily help and befriend.
Community Cafés have much broader appeal than the traditional ‘coffee mornings’, which tend to cater for a discrete group of usually more elderly citizens. We believe many organisations such as charities and faith groups can start and run sustainable cafes, which will improve the lives not only of their target demographic but the whole local community. Community Cafés are particularly relevant and sustainable in rural and semi-urban communities, which increasingly lack local facilities but where commercial cafés are not viable….
- They improve quality of life by providing a meaningful venue/destination for lonely people and those isolated by mobility or transport issues.
- They deliver social and community cohesion by having broad appeal and therefore brings together otherwise disparate sectors of the community.
- They contribute to community development and support by providing a setting in which community groups and statutory agencies can informally engage with and help service users.
- They are sustainable through income generated, volunteer involvement and, where possible, start-up grants or other funding to purchase the equipment and training required.