A hug and a warm meal for everyone at Bristol Community Cafés

Michelle and her mother Gill are two extraordinary women. A few years ago, they decided to make change happen in their local community, and started a mission to end the loneliness and isolation in the area, which was becoming a growing issue for so many people.

Within a few years, Bristol Community Cafés was born, a Community Interest Company which serves up the warmest welcome, delicious food and a chance to socialise to isolated people in the

community. They started out with just one café, and now run 3 cafes around Bristol, providing food to between 30 and 90 people every single week.

For many, their café is a lifeline. It might be the only time they get a proper, home cooked hot meal in the week, let alone the chance to talk to someone.

Mike is a regular at the café.

“It’s nice to come and talk to people in person. I could easily go a very long time without seeing anybody, if it wasn’t for this.”

“Michelle makes up omelettes especially for me here, because I can’t make them at home anymore. It’s such a nice place. Just makes you feel welcome!”

Making the most out of surplus food

Since we started providing Community Cafés with a weekly supply of food, they have been able to use it to improve the service they offer, and reinvest the money saved back into their cafes.

“FareShare food means we can produce hot meals for everyone, and have extra treats as well”

They are some of the most resourceful cooks we know, making sure nothing gets wasted and accepting some of the more unusual items of food we sometimes get delivered!

Michelle tells us “We’ll use anything and turn it into something. We’ve had lovely dinners like liver and onions, shepherd’s pie, traditional stuff. One week we got a huge shoulder of lamb so we had a huge roast dinner- everyone thought that was amazing as it’s not something they’d normally have. The food from FareShare South West means we can produce hot meals for everyone and charge very little- and still have money for extra treats and special foods.”

More than a meal

Michelle and Gill do so much more than provide food. They understand the vital importance of a warm, homely welcome and a hug, and of building real relationships and community.

Sisters Mandy and Nicky help volunteer at the cafes, and make sure there is a warm and friendly atmosphere. They are affectionately known as ‘The Selling Sisters’ after they started up a bric-a-brac stall and tombola each week.

Shirley says she was nervous about coming the first time, but was soon welcomed into the café. “I came to stand outside the door and I wasn’t sure, and then someone came out and 

showed me inside. I’ve been coming ever since- they can’t get rid of me now!”

Michelle tells us how much change they’ve seen in the people who come each week. One gentleman, Morris used to be incredibly shy when he first started coming. “Now though, he’s the life and soul here- he’s always dressing up, getting us laughing along with him. It’s amazing the change in him.”

Working with Bristol Community Cafés, we are able to get FareShare food delivered to those who need it most. Working in partnership, we are able to put surplus food to the best possible use.

If you work for an organisation which supports vulnerable people and uses food, you could be eligible to sign up for a weekly food supply from FareShare South West. Find out more here or contact us.