Cafe is helping serve up fresh starts
Dan Thompson profit social enterprise, opened in Oldham town centre two weeks ago, providing freshly-cooked food and hot drinks in return for a donation.
When a customer donates £1.50 or more, they are given a token card which can be given to someone else, who can exchange it for another drink or meal – completely free of charge.
The café has been opened by Acorn Treatment, which is part of the Calico Group, and helps people recovering from drugs and alcohol addiction.
It is thought to be the only one of its kind in the country. The café is on the first floor of Acorn’s indistinct offices in Brunswick House, on Union Street, away from the main shopping centre of Oldham.
Jill Webster, care and new business manager for Calico Group, said she came up with the ‘ buy one, give one free’ concept in an attempt to stand out from the crowd.
She added: “Because the location is not the most ideal, we thought it was important to be innovative, rather than being a bog standard coffee shop. I don’t know of anything else like it. We don’t want it to be profit-making, we’re looking to provide services, to give something back to the local community and support the people in it, particularly those in recovery. We don’t want any stigma attached to it. It could be a lawyer getting a free brew or a homeless person. There’s no distinction between the two.”
The cafe’s chef is Acorn employee Paul Cross, a former crack and heroin addict, who makes fresh meals and desserts with a different set of ingredients every day. He is training up recovering addicts who use Acorn’s services and are volunteering at the café – to help build their confidence and a career.
Jill added she hoped the cafe would be a way for people with addiction problems to access services.
The cafe wants to team up with supermarkets who will hopefully donate ingredients for free. It is also looking to boost its income by providing corporate buffets and meals on wheels services to older people across Oldham and Rochdale.