Newbury Educafe fights for future funding to avoid closure
A popular community café, located in the heart of Newbury, is at risk of closing unless it receives vital funds.
In 2021, West Berkshire Council commissioned a free, drop-in community café for up to 30 visitors each week to combat loneliness after lockdown. Educafé has rapidly grown since, now averaging more than 150 visitors each week.
But the volunteer-run café has become a victim of its own success and unless it can secure a serious cash injection by March, it will be forced to close.
The café’s reliance on volunteers, reduced government funding and rising attendance means it has exceeded its current capacity and resource allowance.
Organisers have launched a fundraiser, initially set at £50,000, to continue giving lifechanging support to West Berkshire residents.
They will need to raise at least £177,000 to keep running from 2024-25.
Organisers are applying for various grants and alternative sources of funding but are now appealing to local donors and businesses for help to survive long term.
Thames Valley Police, the NHS and Mayor of Newbury, Nigel Foot, are all frequent visitors to the café.
So, what does Educafé actually do?
The café — recently nominated for a BBC Berkshire Making a Difference Award — consolidates various social groups and activities all under one roof.
Some of its services include English language courses for non-native speakers, free drop-in health checks, baby sensory sessions, chair yoga, knitting for senior residents, plus free tea, coffee and cakes — prepared without fail every week by café manager, Julie Seal.
“Educafe is much more than a community café,” said Mrs Seal. “We make everyone feel part of our community and connect key services with the people they serve.
“If we lose Educafé, Newbury loses its community spirit.”
Watch the video reporter Mirek Gosney made to showcase the café’s work and impact on the local community.
Speaking about the café’s significance, Abdullah, from Sudan, said: “I’m a big fan of meeting people and practicing my English. It’s a privilege for me to visit Educafé.”
“Educafé has literally been a lifesaver for me,” said another visitor. “I have attempted suicide twice in my life, but the camaraderie and teamwork at Educafé helps me feel more positive and gives me purpose in my life again.”
And it’s not just visitors who benefit from the strong sense of community cohesion.
“We’re a true melting pot and represent the full spectrum of our community,” said Educafé director, Clare Middleton.
“There’s something for everyone and each person’s different story is what makes Educafé unique.”
Retired teacher, Margaret Neville, who runs the Chatty Corner, added: “If you haven’t been to Educafé, you don’t know what you’re missing.
“Educafé’s power to connect people cannot be underestimated, particularly in challenging times like these.”
Please visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/save-our-educafe to support the café’s fundraiser.
And contact email@example.com or 07540145785 to get involved.