Renovated Whitby church opens affordable café to help people struggling with Cost of Living Crisis

A Whitby church which has reopened after a renovation has opened a not-for-profit café to help people struggling with soaring household bills.

By Duncan Atkins
Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 8:47 am

Whitby Christian Fellowship decided to move into Skinner Street's West Cliff Church just over a year ago despite it being in a major state of disrepair - with a leaking roof and dry rot two of the main issues which required sorting.

The group's volunteers set about giving their time, money and skills to help with some of the renovation work and now the church has opened up the Mustard Seed Café, offering cheap meals to the community.

Pastor John Winter said: "It provides a worship centre for ourselves but it is in a prominent place on the high street and we're trying to create something with a community offering to the general public in Whitby.

West Cliff Church Pastor John Winter at the church's Mustard Seed Cafe.

"One of the things we thought was a major step forward was a not-for-profit café where we can keep prices down as a result.

"People will be naturally attracted to a church café as we do all the cooking ourselves and it's mainly limited to soups and jacket potatoes - stuff that is easy and cheap to make but is nutritious.

"There are some people in the community who find it hard to pay café prices.

"They can come in and sit for as long as they like."

Diners at the Mustard Seed Cafe at Whitby's West Cliff Church.

The café also offers a seniors' lunch once a month, targeting people who are lonely or on their own.

"There are a lot of possibilities here and very early days as the building needed to take priority."

Sunday services at the church are averaging around 60 people.

"That's been great and it's really breathing new life into the church, which was built for the community in 1857 and then gradually gone into decline," added Mr Winter.

The Mustard Seed Cafe team in Whitby's West Cliff Church.

"It's important to build on that history and keep it for the purpose for which it was built."

The café is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 10.30am to 2pm.

Future plans include a warm room concept a couple of afternoons a week, where people can sit in a warm room in the church, have a hot drink and watch TV.

"It's something other church and community groups are doing around the country," said Mr Winter.

"It takes people a lot of courage to admit they are struggling but they can come into an environment where they will not be judged."

The fellowship previously met at Eskdale School.