Do Good in Brentwood: Campaigner tells us how you can help at Hutton's The Daily Bread Cafe
PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 February 2019
Enjoy Brentwood More's monthly writer and Do Good in Brentwood campaigner Villene Hyam has been out and about this month, getting to know the good work of one community group.
Last time I told you that I planned to feature a community group or volunteering opportunity each month from now on, and for February I am delighted to tell you that I’ve found something which covers both!
Recently I was lucky enough to visit an amazing community project that Lisa Whymark and St Peter’s Church in Hutton are leading to help combat the isolation felt by some groups in the area where she lives.
On Tuesdays and Sundays, Lisa, the ordinand at the church, runs The Daily Bread Café at St Peter’s in Claughton Way. Receiving vital support from Priest in Charge Andy Smith, the café is open to anyone who wants to get out of the house to have a cup of tea, something to eat and a chat.
Food is donated by Marks & Spencer and this is available at the café “fairly priced” (which basically means, it’s whatever you can afford).
It’s a resource for people who need food, warmth and company and, for whatever reason, can’t get these things at home.
There’s also the added bonus of expert advice and the opportunity to learn something new.
A representative from Peabody Trust comes along to chat to anyone who needs advice about how to manage certain situations in their lives - from finances and benefits to health and accommodation worries.
It’s a great opportunity to talk to someone in a welcoming and safe environment.
And a team of volunteers go along to share their skills with the visitors and teach them something new, like crochet or sign language.
Lisa is leading this on behalf of the church as part of their outreach commitment to the people of Hutton.
It started this as a way of bringing the community together after identifying that there are lots of people in the area who are struggling to afford enough food for themselves or their families, or just don’t leave the house unless they have a really good reason. Although many in the area might head to Costa for a coffee, it’s not somewhere you can go for free or strike up a conversation with a stranger.
And it’s not walkable for many in this area of Hutton either. Lisa managed to secure donations from Marks & Spencer after organising drop-in sessions last year, notably as a result of the widely publicised water leak in Hutton.
They saw what she was doing and when their previous recipient of food donations no longer needed it, they chose to work with The Daily Bread Café.
Lisa is totally invested in the area and is passionate about helping people.
She’s lived in Hutton for almost 16 years - her kids have attended the local school, she’s taught there, and she runs netball there. She’s also in training to be a priest herself, at university and with guidance from Andy.
He says that none of this would have happened without her.
“Lisa is the real driving force behind the Daily Bread Café. Having the idea is one thing, but without her getting on and taking action, it may never have happened.”
In turn, Lisa is incredibly grateful to Andy for his support in opening the church doors to the project.
“We needed a home for the idea and, with Andy’s support, The Daily Bread Café now has a place where we can welcome people in.”
They plan to make this a real community hub - offering something for everyone, giving all residents the opportunity to be involved.
It was busy when I visited. There were women learning to make jewellery, with the help of volunteer Sheryl who brought along her bead collection and taught a table of people how create jewellery with a ‘Love’ or ‘Faith’ morse code message.
There was a table of people just catching up over a cup of tea.
Lisa told me one man had been there nearly five hours.
There were people knitting, there were people chatting, and there were Mums with babies reading books and playing together. Later on, even more people joined when parents with pre-school children came in for a cup of tea, and then afterwards the kids who had finished school joined us.
One of the Mums attends church and brought a friend along today so their babies could spend some time together. Many of the older members of the congregation told me that they look forward to The Daily Bread Café as they simply wouldn’t leave the house otherwise.
Most of them wished it happened every day.
Some live in warden-controlled flats near the church where there is no communal area. Although it’s ok in the summer as they can sit and chat together outside, winter can be difficult.
It’s a real haven for so many people and it’s all because of a great idea that’s being really well executed.
How Can We Help?
This is such a great resource for so many people but, like most things, it’s hard work keeping it running.
The team is in need of a few things to reach its full potential, but mainly:
Volunteers on the day: If you have a skill that you’re happy to share with others, you could go along and teach the group. They currently crochet, knit, and make jewellery, but it doesn’t have to be craft-based. They’ve also been taught sign language recently, which was really popular.
If there were more people to help, the café could run more frequently, which is what lots of the people who go there told me they would love. If you are interested in giving your time, it’s best to get in touch with Lisa directly on email@example.com and she can explain all the requirements.
Volunteers behind the scenes: Lisa is currently regularly collecting food from Marks & Spencer herself, and when we talked about funding she said that she’s aware of a few options but it’s tough to find the time to research or apply for opportunities.
If you have time to spare and you’re good at using the internet and filling out forms, you could really help the team by lending your expertise for a few hours a month.
Food donations: At the moment, they’re receiving food from Marks & Spencer but anything else that can be used on a Tuesday or Sunday is welcome. If you’re a budding baker and you want some people to try out your latest creation, The Daily Bread Café might be the place for you!
Furniture: Although they don’t have a lot of storage space at the moment, the team could do with some stackable tables and chairs to make it easier to set up and re-configure the area according to how busy they are. At the moment they use really heavy ones which just can’t be moved around very easily and are hard to hide away once they’re done with.
Do you work somewhere that stocks items like this who would be willing to donate?
Spreading the Word: At the moment the people attending are there because they’ve heard about it either by being approached or through social media. If you can get the message out there by inviting people along, or using the power of social media yourself, that would be great.
The more people there are, the more interesting conversations you can have, the more skills you can learn, and the more enlightening it will be for everyone!
The Daily Bread Café is open from 9am on Tuesdays, and after the 9.30am church service on
For updates, follow @parishhutton on Twitter.