A cafe, the Council, churches, businesses and charities: how great teamwork is helping some of the most vulnerable people in Worthing

Released: Tuesday, 05 May 2020

There were two reasons why Worthing cafe owner Sarah Hill didn't hesitate when agreeing to help feed the borough's vulnerable homeless and rough sleepers during lockdown.

The first was that the Cafe Montague proprietor saw for herself how hungry the vulnerable people, numbers have doubled since the crisis began, actually were.

And secondly the prospect of closing her cafe and putting her staff out of work was too awful to contemplate. Better work for a good cause and keep her great team together.

So since being asked by homeless charity Turning Tides and Worthing Borough Council's Outreach team Cafe Montague have been working flat out providing 80 people, currently housed in town centre hotels, with three meals a day. Sarah said:

“It's really good because you get to see a side of society that you wouldn't normally see. I think that there's a belief that when you walk past a homeless person you don't understand why they're homeless. Hearing some of their stories you begin to realise why people can end up in this position. It broadens the mind.”

The cafe stepped in when St Clare's Community Hub, run by Turning Tides, and other night shelters had to close because of the lockdown and could no longer provide their no longer provide meals for their usual Monday night visitors. Sarah, who runs the cafe with partner Michael, said:

“Things just snowballed from there.”

The team is not only feeding temporary hotel residents but other vulnerable people in the community. Sarah added:

“They're very hungry, most of them. A lot of them haven't been using the night shelters and are rough sleeping and relying on donations from the public.”

Food is supplied by generous donations from Cafe Montague customers, Bookers Worthing and Co-op as well as other local stores though the majority of supplies comes in two deliveries per week from the food waste charity FareShare. The Council is meeting some of the cafe's expenses. Sarah continued:

“Last week FareShare delivered a ton of food to us and we don't have much of that left. As well as these donations, the Council's Food Hub asked another food charity, UKHarvest, to deliver us anything fresh that they couldn't store. So we get things like mince, sausages and bacon too.”

“We cook the meals and then there’s a delivery rota. In the morning it's the Outreach team, lunchtimes and evenings there’s a rota of church volunteers.”

It's a great example of crisis-time community partnership working between local business, Council staff and church groups.

While grateful that they can help to support the vulnerable communities at this time, the other reason for Sarah to help is that it means she can retain her staff and keep her business running during the pandemic:

“We can stay open and it's great to help where we can. I don't want to lose my lovely staff.”

If you need support, please visit our coronavirus community support page.

Photo: Sarah Hill, owner of Cafe Montague, prepping meals

PR20-040 - Sarah Hill, owner of Cafe Montague, prepping meals

Photo: Cafe Montague team member Paul prepping meals for the vulnerable

PR20-040 - Cafe Montague team member Paul prepping meals for the vulnerable

Photo: Cafe Montague - in Montague Place, Worthing

PR20-040 - Cafe Montague - in Montague Place, Worthing

(PR20-040)

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Page last updated: 05 November 2020