Dee Park celebrates launch of new community café

Kirsty Daniels, Mary Nee, Debs Absolom, Labour candidate in Norcot Ward for 2014 local elections, Dominique Grandis, Satty Mann, Victoria Groulef – Labour parliamentary candidate, Graeme Hoskins – councillor,  Jo Lovelock – leader of the council

Who needs red cups filled with expensive coffee to feel festive? Not the residents of Dee Park! As a new community café in Dee Park, Reading, has launched just in time to fight off the winter blues.

Café Couture is managed by The Pride of Dee Park, a community group of entrepreneurial mums and is being run as a not-for-profit business working for the benefit of local residents. All profits will be invested back into Dee Park, with a particular focus on helping children and young people in the neighbourhood.

In June, after overwhelming feedback and support from residents, The Pride of Dee Park were awarded £5,000 as part of Reading Borough Council’s Decent Neighbourhood Funding initiative. They were then given a further £5,000 by the Dee Park Partnership of Willmott Dixon and Catalyst Housing.

The volunteers have gone through rigorous food safety and barista training to provide a high class service, they will also be offering a range of fresh sandwiches, paninis and cakes. The café will provide local employment and in the long term will support projects in the community for young people and families on the estate. The cafe will be Monday-Friday from 8am till 5pm, with the intention of opening on a Saturday 9am-2pm for children clubs. Café Couture seats 30 people and offers a takeaway service.

Catalyst Gateway has supported this project by funding training on how to set up a community interest company as well as helping The Pride take up the lease of their new venue.

Reading Borough Council recently approved Phase 2B of the £150 million Dee Park Regeneration programme. This phase will deliver 145 new homes and new housing management offices in addition to the community café.

Councillor Jo Lovelock, chair of the Dee Park Neighbourhood Board and leader of Reading Borough Council, says:

“The new café in Dee Park is much more than simply a place for people to grab a quick bite. It is a community hub that will create employment, give residents a place to meet both during the day and in the evenings – which is particularly important for young people – and it will generate income for neighbourhood projects.

The café shows what is possible when local residents get together to work for their community and it will be a great asset for Dee Park.”

Kirsty Daniels, Pride of Dee Park:

“The launch went absolutely amazing, I couldn’t have asked for it to go any better. We received plenty of training and feel ready for what challenges we might face. At the moment, with the job market being the way it is, I say if there is any opportunity to learn a new skill then grab it with both hands.”

Tina Ford, Community Regeneration Advisor, Catalyst Gateway said:

“For almost three years I’ve been supporting The Pride of Dee Park. It’s been a genuine pleasure watching them grow in confidence and ambition, becoming much more than event organisers. As we move into phase two of the regeneration the café will make the perfect location for everyone in Dee Park to socialise and enjoy the community they live in.”