Community Champions

Café serves up support for less fortunate

Written by Peter Davison.

Lily and Jess Shergold

 

A Devizes café is spreading some goodwill this winter by supporting two initiatives that help others.

Sprout, in St John’s Street, is once again supporting the Wiltshire Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter campaign, which gives grants to vulnerable people living in fuel poverty, and has launched Suspended Coffee, its own scheme to allow customers to buy a coffee for people who are less fortunate.

Lily Shergold, 22, (pictured left with Jess Shergold) said the idea for Suspended Coffee came from a conversation with Nicky Harris, the community connector from the Wiltshire Centre For Independent Living in Devizes. It is aimed at encouraging people on a low budget – young mums, pensioners or rough sleepers – to drop in and socialise.

“The idea is that customers can buy an extra coffee and suspend it so that someone who may not be able to afford to buy a coffee can come and ask if there any available and then claim one,” she said. “They can have it as a takeaway or they can sit and drink it here in the warm, chat to people and not be on their own. There is always someone to talk to in here.”

She says the scheme fits in with the three-year-old café’s welcoming and friendly ethos, something she knows their customers buy into. “We know our customers will want to pay a little kindness forward. We’ve only been running it a few days and already people are taking part.

“Our customers are very friendly and understanding and we have always welcomed anyone in. If we have a suspended coffee available, anyone can claim it. I’m in no position to judge who deserves it.”

Customers can see if there are suspended coffees available because a ‘washing line’ behind the till will have cut out coffee cups, designed and made by Miss Shergold, on display.

The café, run by Miss Shergold, her mum Jess Shergold and uncle Glen Hickey, hopes others in the town will join in the scheme.

Last year the café raised £300 in support of the Wiltshire Community Foundation’s Surviving Winter campaign by donating 50p from each one of its popular hot chocolate drinks sold and it is doing the same this year.

The campaign, which is in its tenth year, gives £300 grants to the elderly and vulnerable living in fuel poverty. Since its launch the Wiltshire Community Foundation has given away more than £500,000 to more than 1,500 households in Wiltshire and Swindon.

“More than 30,000 people in Wiltshire live in fuel poverty and last year more than 300 of them died in fuel poverty,” said the Community Foundation’s chief executive Rosemary Macdonald.

“The support of community-minded businesses like Sprout, who have shown how much they care by helping Surviving Winter and launching Suspended Coffee, is wonderful.”