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  • Writer's pictureEmma Obhi

Café Launch in the Sentinel

Our Right up in the Sentinel :)

A community cafe which aims to ease the cost of living burden has been launched - with a familiar face in charge. The eatery at Fegg Hayes' Whitfield Valley Centre was unveiled with a tasty menu dishing up hot food and drinks.

And the manager is a familiar face to locals having run a successful cafe in the area. Marie Spilsbury ran Spill The Beans in nearby Chell for five years before it closed just before the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Now Marie is at the cafe which is being run by the Chell Area Family Action Group based in the centre. The charity offers services such as a gym, career advice, nursery, a creche and a youth club.

Marie joined the charity in January. The 44-year-old said: "It's absolutely brilliant here. We're all a family. A lot of my former customers have come in here and said how comfortable and nice it is here.

"It's a really good atmosphere and I love it so much. We have a really good menu, it's mostly breakfast stuff but with some light lunch options like paninis and jacket potatoes."

Marie also believes the centre helps families with the cost of living problems. She said: "It's horrendous out there at the minute with the cost of living crisis. We have the take-it table where people can pick up goods they need if they're struggling, and we've put together emergency food parcels for the community for people who have needed it.

"This place is such a lifeline. Tesco up the road gives us donations and it's really comforting knowing that children are getting a good meal. The food is really good.

Marie said she doesn't consider working there to be a job. She said the future is good for the centre and the charity.

She added: "We've got a nice warm atmosphere here. I love it. We've all had jobs that have been a bit rubbish and you think when you wake up 'oh god I've got to go in'. You don't get that at all here, everyone is so nice.

"Everybody is so lovely. We've got a really good future here, you've got everything under one roof. I'm still surprised at how much we do here."

The Fegg Hayes Road centre has 24 staff and 30 volunteers. Charity manager Emily Taylor is a former Miss Staffordshire.

The 25-year-old said: "The charity has been here for over 21 years. What we want to do is build people's confidence. We take pride in the fact we're the only charity that will provide you with support from birth, right through to being elderly. We've had people who have come here as kids who have come back with their kids.

"We have been funded by the Lottery for the third time. It is very rare to get Lottery funding for the third time for the same reason. This is one of the most deprived areas and we have provided people with support through the cost of living crisis. We have a free breakfast every Wednesday and a warm space. We want to help the community.

"The majority of our staff live close by so they know the community. We are right in the heart of the community and it doesn't feel like work here. There are occasionally stressful situations but we are passionate and we pride ourselves in helping people."

Another member of staff who is passionate about the charity is business development manager Emma Obhi. She said: "No day is ever the same. There is just such a lovely atmosphere here.

"Every time you're in here you feel like you're doing good. We want to show people's full potential. We have quite a lot of people coming in and we do so much, we cater for everybody.

"Once people find us, we have them for years. The community love us. We are a lifeline, that's what we're doing it for. We are all here for the community."


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