A NEW cafe and hub is now up and running and offering a safe environment for people to volunteer and socialise as part of a Kinver community group's Covid-19 recovery plan.

The new community cafe is based just off the High Street at the Edward Marsh Centre - a village community centre built in the 1960s on land near the River Stour donated by Edward Marsh, of the famous Marsh and Baxter butcher’s shops.

An existing kitchen and bar area have been completely reimagined as part of volunteer-led efforts to create the new venture - funded by grants totalling around £20,000 from the National Lottery's Awards for All fund, Comic Relief plus local charities including the Harry Payne Fund and the Ken Wrigley Trust.

Isolation has been a big problem amid the pandemic but the creation of the new community cafe, off the beaten track on a four-acre site, has proven an effective solution to bring people in the village back together in a safe environment.

The cafe project, which is part of a larger £1.2million scheme to refurbish the Edward Marsh Centre and preserve it for future generations, has offered an opportunity for people to make new friends or learn new skills, from making a cappuccino to learning how to make an online Zoom call, or just enjoy the countryside views while having a cuppa.

Ann Becke, a volunteer who runs the centre and helped bid for funding, said: “The cafe was opened as part of our post-Covid recovery plan to provide a safe environment where people can just socialise.

"The volunteer programme aimed to help people feel connected to their community and feel part of a team.

"It's given some of the older people who have become quite institutionalised the opportunity to join something they felt they could become part of.

"That fear of having been isolated for 18 months has meant some people have lost their confidence and haven't felt capable but a scheme such as this has renewed that faith and given them something to be involved in. Young people have also got involved which is nice."

Kinver resident Samantha Parr took up the interior design mantel to create a welcoming space with comfort in mind rather than just numbers through the door and Ann, who is well-known in Kinver for her work with the Chernobyl Children's Lifeline charity, said of the transformation: “It felt as if the place still had the original carpets and furniture. The lounge in particular was in dire need of a makeover. It’s such a fabulous venue and location we wanted to save it for the next generation.

"The way it looks now is very modern.


The new Kinver Community Cafe. Pic - Dave McGirr

The new Kinver Community Cafe. Pic - Dave McGirr


"The volunteers followed Sam’s mood board and together we all sourced the fittings. We even stripped and decorated the room, running up and down ladders with paint and wallpaper but it keeps us fit and young at heart.

"It’s a very diverse team of volunteers helping to run the cafe - ranging from teenagers to 80-plus but we still need more volunteers to join us.

"Some people are nervous about volunteering at the centre so we would ask them please just come and have a look, a cup of coffee and a chat about how you could help. The community centre isn’t just for Kinver people. Everyone is welcome."

The café is open on Saturdays and Sundays 10am to 4pm, and on the last Friday of each month from noon to 3pm and on the first Friday of the month from 4pm to 7pm. There's also a bric-a-brac and book sale every Sunday.

To find out more or volunteer to help at the cafe or with the refurbishment project contact Ann on 07711 154401.