Community church cafe scoops top award

A pioneering Dundee church community café has scooped a top award.

The Main Street Café Volunteers fended off competition to win the Community Group of the Year category at the third annual Evening Telegraph Community Spirit Awards.

Coldside Parish Church
L-R Steven Wilson, Rev Tony Thornthwaite, Elspeth Petrie, Morag Beckett and Stewart Murdoch, Dundee City Council’s director of leisure and communities. Photograph - Evening Telegraph.

The facility at Coldside Parish Church, which seeks to support some of the most disadvantaged people in society, only officially opened in September 2015.

Rev Tony Thornthwaite, who leads the congregation, said the facility had proved to be a “great success story” and described the win as “absolutely amazing”.

Coldside Parish Church was awarded a grant of £4,228 from the Church of Scotland's Go For it fund to bankroll the project, which provides food and a safe place for local, often isolated, people to socialise.

Success story

The cafe asks people to make a donation for food and provides services such as advice on fuel poverty, budgeting and addiction.

Nearly 100 people ate at the café over two days last week.

Mr Thornthwaite said: “It is a great success story and winning this award is absolutely amazing.

“We only have one full-time member of staff and could not run the café without volunteers, so this award is for them.

“We are looking to address problems of social inclusion because the church is in one of the most impoverished areas of Dundee and there are a lot of single men, single mothers and older people in the community.

“The café is a warm, safe place where people can gather, eat what they want and pay what they can.

“All the volunteers are absolutely chuffed to bits because this award is real recognition for all the hard work they are doing.”

Inspirational

The awards ceremony was held at the Apex Hotel in Dundee last Friday.

Broadcaster and comedian Fred MacAulay, who hosted the event, said: “This was a hotly-contested category, and it’s heartening to see the vibrant network of community groups across Dundee and Angus.

“There’s a real sense of camaraderie in this volunteer team and a can-do spirit which impressed all of the judges.”

The community café was praised in an feature on the awards ceremony in the Evening Telegraph.

“Groups like the Main Street Cafe Volunteers aren’t just recognised for what they do — but also for the inspired impact they have on their communities,” it stated.

“The cafe may have only been running for two years in Coldside Church but in that short space of time it has transformed the lives of many of the customers who pay a visit on Wednesdays and Thursdays every week.

“Operating on an ‘eat what you like, pay what you can’ model, the volunteers dish up all manner of delicious homemade soups, paninis, cakes and toasties, and offer up fresh fruit and veg to take home.

“Its volunteers work long and hard to keep the cafe going and dish food up without judging, with a smile on their faces, and while dealing with an ever-rising number of customers each day.”