A cheerful hello and the smell of homemade soup is the warm welcome that awaits anyone wondering into St James’ church on a Tuesday afternoon. Copious amounts of tea, cake and friendly conversation are offered for free every week at the community café.
Hannah Whitehead, who grew up in Muswell Hill, runs the café as the Church’s Head of Community Ministries. ‘My aim is to reach out to Muswell and to be a light’ which she certainly seems to be succeeding in, with numbers raising from a handful since it’s conception in 2009 to approximately 48 people attending each week.
‘A lot of the people that come are isolated, on benefits or have mental health issues…[the café] is a real life line and for some the highlight of their week’ Hannah said.
Having previously worked in the more materialistic world of wedding co-ordination in upmarket Mayfair, Hannah felt the call to do something more enriching. ‘It’s so rewarding doing something to give back to the community and doing something for someone else.’
Full of praise for all of the volunteers and partners that make the café possible, she consistently thanks all the local businesses and supermarkets that donate food, and eagerly mentions the great work the others on the team do.
Not only does the café provide food for the body, but it also tries to give attendees food for the soul. ‘With this being a Church we also have a thought for the day and speak for 5 minutes about God’s work…It’s about love, being merciful, compassionate and helping those in need.’ and Those that attend obviously feel the compassion, as she jokes ‘there are 5 minutes left and no-one wants to leave!
Quick Fire Questions
If you were a biscuit what would you be and why?
H: Viennese Swirl. They are exciting and when you look at them you go WOW and that’s what I want.
What is the correct order to make a cup of tea?
H: Milk then tea.
Describe your perfect Sunday?
H: Church, homemade roast followed by a walk on ally pally then evening mass.
Christmas is fast approaching, what do you want to find in your stocking?
H: A TV but that won’t fit in my stocking!
If you could have anyone past or present, real or not, around your Christmas table who would it be?
H: All the guys from the Hundred Acre Woods, they are great fun. (After a moment) I should have said something more cool!
Mulled wine or mulled cider?
H: Mulled non-alcoholic apple, I don’t drink.
Any secret recipe tips?
H: Nutmeg, cinnamon, and a bit of honey.
If you would like to know more about the community café or any other events run by St James more information can be found on their website http://www.st-james.org.uk/ or contact them on 02088836277.
By Aleesha Hansel