On Sunday morning, Fareham Community Church’s Cafe Imbizo buzzes as people grab a coffee and catch up with each other’s news before heading upstairs to the worship service. Others stay and watch a live stream on the cafe tv.
But during the week there is another side to Cafe Imbizo; an open door welcoming a stream of West Street passers-by, as well as homeless or lonely people. A regular volunteer in Cafe Imbizo is FCC’s Shane Davies and I met up with him recently to find out more about what the Cafe and it’s community means to him.
The Crafty Makery
Shane is half way through his planned 2 years of volunteering and uses Cafe Imbizo as the base for the Crafty Makery. This Community Interest Company aims to build community and fight loneliness through crafts. Current sessions are on Mondays and Tuesdays at Imbizo between 10am and 3pm, while Monday morning has developed into a group which provides a meeting place for up to six people with Fibromyalgia.
In new plans, which start this week Cafe Imbizo will now be open from 5pm to 9pm on Thursdays to give people more opportunities to meet others and build friendships:
1st Thursday: Board games
2nd Thursday: Craft evening
3rd Thursday: Curry night
4th Thursday: Community Meal
Shane also has plans to open Imbizo one Sunday a month for Dad’s and their Children, providing a space for them to play games and have quality time together.
Helping the Homeless
Cafe Imbizo has, for many years, been a place where Fareham Community Church can support homeless people, providing food, warm drinks, basic equipment and the opportunity to use the Church’s shower and washing machine. Shane has recently been using his knowledge of the housing system and the financial support available from Fareham Borough Council, to help homeless people find accommodation.
Rent Guarantee Sheme
However there is often a small shortfall between housing benefit and private rent, so Shane has managed to help several homeless people into accommodation by acting as a rent guarantor for 6 months. This exciting embryonic scheme is something that he is hoping to scale up over the coming year, by partnering with local churches. By helping people out of the local homeless shelters, it will free up beds for others.
He also told me the story of a lady who has recently been made homeless and was living in her car in her employer’s carpark. She risks loosing her job unless she can find somewhere to rent. The lady contacted Shane on Social Media a few weeks ago because she’d heard about his success in helping homeless people find housing. FCC has now provided a safer place for her and access to its facilities, while Shane has kept in contact, giving advice and encouragement. Latest news is that she had her first house viewing last week and should find a new home soon.
Cafe redevelopment plans
Fareham Community Church is currently drawing up exciting new plans to expand its cafe facilities and space as it seeks to better serve the local community. In the meantime, Cafe Imbizo continues to be that open door, welcoming the people of Fareham. For more information, please contact the church office on: firstname.lastname@example.org