Cafe is help­ing serve up fresh starts

Tameside Advertiser - - VIEWPOINTS -

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.

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