A day in the life of our community pantry and cafe

Jani here – reporting on Saturday’s community pantry.

Busy day today on paid forward soups and hot drinks and a few paying regulars in as well.

We ran a shorter one today as it was just me and Zigz, Gill is off having a rest (we hope).

Even on a warm day, hot chocolate is the clear winner for our pantry users. A little luxury, a little sweetness and some extra energy in one drink. Being unhoused and spending a lot of time outside is TIRING as well as cold.

The treats are always a hit – donuts (thanks The Big Difference for passing these on to us), sweets and other high calorie foods are necessary to combat the exhaustion many feel and the irregularity of food. The homemade soup provides much needed vitamins and nourishment for the body and soul – today we gave out 16 in one hour, Zigz was flat out!

One new visitor was able to charge their phone (I’m thinking we might need to get a way of offering this more readily) and asked how much for a coffee. When I told them we had paid forward coffees so they didn’t have to pay, they burst into tears. They didn’t need to deal with my emotions too, so I held my shit together but honestly felt like crying too.

Simple kindness shouldn’t be so rare for a person!

They hugged their latte and had some donuts with it and then a nap on the couch. That couch has seen a lot of napping….

Another regular saw we were short on crew and is taking the step of volunteering for us – their first shift is next week. They used to run a restaurant so have the people skills I lack for front of house 😉 yay.

So – if you are one of our Patreon supporters and help pay for hot drinks for folks, know that your small donation made a big difference today.

Apparently some people don’t know what it is we do here these days and maybe miss the old cafe and menu. It is different from before. These are different times.

Southampton didn’t need another vegan cafe or coffee shop, honestly, as we came out of lockdown and into the cost of living crisis – but it does, judging by the number of people who came in just two hours, need this.

We’re still a good cafe to hang out in, everyone can come in – and our customer base is wider and more diverse now money isn’t a criteria for being here.

I enjoyed being here today. A couple of our paying regulars also rounded up their bills today, helping to cover the cost of being open as a community pantry and cafe. Thank you so much, supporters, for making it possible for us to hold this space. We’ll keep going as long as we can!

What to support us? Make a quick, one-off donation via PayPal here

Help us reach our summer targets by helping out with our wishlist here (using Stripe for payment)

We are also looking for volunteers to help with the pantry at the moment – find out more here

Pop in when we are open with a donation or round up your bill when you come in for coffee!

Transfer money directly to our bank account, either as a one-off or a regular donation here:

The Art House Southampton
Sort code 089299
Account no. 65287334, (The Co-operative Bank)

Thanks so much to everyone who supports us each week! We would not be here without you.

About janifranck

Artist, activist, founding director of The Art House in Southampton.
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