A Bury St Edmunds café has joined a burgeoning movement with a social conscience – giving customers the chance to buy a hot drink or snack to give to those in need.
Café Del Mar, in St John’s Street, is running its version of the Suspended Coffee scheme in which customers can purchase £2.50 vouchers for a hot drink and croissant as well as £5 vouchers for a platter or panini and a hot drink.
They can then give the voucher to a worthy individual or cause or leave it at the café to be donated to the charity Gatehouse, which will distribute them to those in need.
The café provides the croissant or hot drink as part of the scheme while the cost of the voucher covers the rest.
Maria Crick, who opened the Mediterranean-style café restaurant in October, said: “Because Bury is perceived as a very well-heeled area I think it gets missed that there are people who cannot afford to come out and buy a coffee.
“There was no reason why cafés could not be professionally run, with excellent food, coffee and service, and also have a social and environmental conscious.”
She noted that it could be at the customer’s discretion as to who receives the vouchers and they are discreet to use in the café.
Ms Crick said: “The beauty of it for the diner is that it’s definitely local and can be as targeted as they like which is very important thing for a lot of people. Secondly, it’s very specific as it’s warm food and drink in a warm place. It works for us because it allows us to be charitable.”
As of Tuesday, the café had already sold 10 vouchers with one used.
Amanda Bloomfield, chief executive of Gatehouse, which helps those in need in West Suffolk, said the scheme could help certain sections of the Bury community.
She said: “One of the groups of people who are not keen to accept help are the elderly because they are quite proud.
“Bury has a high number of elderly people and a coffee shop is not somewhere they will look out of place.”
The café and charity are now developing other ideas for ways in which they can help those in need.
Mrs Bloomfield added: “Working together in this way with local business, such as we already have with White Stuff and Asda, enables us to educate local business with the hidden needs of the local society, while also enabling our members to enjoy positive experiences in their community.”