Popular cafe threatened by closure to stay open after last-minute reprieve
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
A lifeline has been thrown to a “much-needed” community cafe that had suffered mounting financial losses due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Thurst Cafe, at the New Green Centre in Thurston, near Bury St Edmunds, provides a space for people to come together.
However, like many venues, it has struggled due to lockdown and then social distancing requirements.
The cafe, which is run by a charity, the New Green Community Trust, will shut on Monday, August 31.
But funding offers of £6,000 in total - £3,000 each by Mid Suffolk District councillors Wendy Turner and Harry Richardson - means it can reopen with its future secure for a year.
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Paul Wade, chairman of the trust, which also manages the community centre building and eight acres of parkland, anticipates the closure period will be short while they await formal approval of the grants and take the opportunity to evaluate opening hours, staffing arrangements and how to maximise available space whilst complying with social distancing requirements.
MORE: Which Suffolk businesses have closed because of the coronavirus pandemic?He said: “On behalf of the trustees and the whole community, we would like to thank Wendy and Harry for throwing a lifeline to a much-needed village facility.
“Although we can guarantee opening for another 12 months, we would encourage people to use it. If you haven’t used it before, please discover a little gem.”
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Mr Wade said the cafe, which has three members of staff, was losing about £500 a month due to the impact of coronavirus. Before this period, it was just starting to break even.
He said the decision to close had been taken with “great reluctance”, but the cash injection would see them through another year, by which time hopefully there will be a vaccine.
Thurston district councillors Mrs Turner (Green Party) and Mr Richardson (Conservatives) have offered the funding from their locality budgets.
Mrs Turner said: “I feel the cafe is a really important community venue that is going to be a much-needed resource going forward into the future where ‘communities’ are going have to be more cohesive due to the impacts of climate change.
“Thurston is a growing village, but doesn’t have many casual community meeting spaces so this would be a great loss to the groups that currently use it and to future users.”
As well as people who pop by, the cafe usually has a customer base from the groups and clubs that hire rooms at the centre, such as baby and exercise classes.
MORE: Which Suffolk restaurants are extending the Eat Out to Help Out deal?Mr Richardson added: “I am delighted to support Thurst Cafe at what I know is a very challenging time. Thurst Cafe offers a fantastic opportunity for local residents to come together and socialise, and I know it is really valued by its customers.”
Mr Wade envisages forming a user group for the cafe with local residents to gain their views moving forwards.