ToastLoveCoffee is about providing a warm welcome in Leeds. It is a safe, warm, neutral cafe space for new people to meet; to break down barriers, create new friendships and build community.
About the project
It's a simple idea really, a cafe where all are welcome. But there are far too few places, where anyone can walk in through the door and feel welcomed, safe, respected as an equal and valued for who they are, whoever they are.
That is the driving force behind ToastLoveCoffee when I realised that for too many people, be they refugees, asylum seekers, locals, newly arrived, Muslims, Jews - you get the picture - feel unwelcome in places in the UK more than they feel welcome.
I wanted to make a difference locally, so I set up ToastLoveCoffee in Leeds, where I live, in a busy part of the city with a large cultural mix*.
ToastLoveCoffee aims to create a space where all are genuinely welcome, and this simple idea generates unlikely and vital conversation, eye contact, smiles and friendships extending far beyond the cafe walls.
For our first year of business, we were popping up in a youth centre in Harehills, Leeds, and the plan now is to go permanent with our own space, attached to the youth centre.
ToastLoveCoffee is a Community Interest Company, meaning that, in addition to community being exactly what we are all about, any profits (not that we are driven by this) that are made will go back into the community, either through expanding projects within our cafe, or supporting other local charities and initiatives with similar objectives.
* "The area is very densely populated, for instance Harehills Triangle has a population density of 138.6 people per hectare compared to a Leeds average of 13.6 (source: Census 2011). The area is very ethnically diverse " (Leeds City Council Harehills Neighbourhood Improvement Plan 2014/2015).
The next chapter
We need to raise £15,000 (some of which is already raised) to bring a donated portacabin to the site, set it in, connect it to gas, electricity and water, and create ToastLoveCoffee's permanent home complete with fully functioning kitchen, and courtyard seating area.
We plan to design a huge mural on one of the interior walls, which will feature a cake stand filled with cakes. The cakes will be designed and named by the crowdfunder sponsors, giving them a unique opportunity to be part of the TLC story.
Thank you for reading
To find out more about the journey of ToastLoveCoffee from crazy idea in my head to the reality it is today, you can catch up on the story at www.toastlovecoffee.wordpress.com and give us a like and a follow on Facebook and Twitter.