Caritas cafe’s future depends on new owner of the building

THE future of the community cafe in Mill Street is unknown because the premises are being sold.

The Rev. Richard Bellinger, one of the trustees of the Caritas Cafe in Mill Street, is unsure about its future with the building in which it operates being sold by the Deanery Fund. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29673026)
The Rev. Richard Bellinger, one of the trustees of the Caritas Cafe in Mill Street, is unsure about its future with the building in which it operates being sold by the Deanery Fund. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 29673026)

Eight years ago Caritas Community LBG trustees chairman the Rev. Richard Bellinger approached the then-Dean with the idea of setting up a community cafe in Town, inspired by the pop-up cafe sometimes staged at the St Martin’s farmers’ market.

The Dean agreed and when 35, Mill Street became available, the Deanery purchased it for the charity and granted Caritas a 10-year lease for £10 rent a year.

Within the lease is a clause which means every two years there is an option for either party to terminate the agreement, with six months’ notice.

Earlier this year, the Deanery Fund directors decided that it was no longer the best use of the fund’s charitable assets to continue to own the building.

‘The Mill Street premises were purchased in 2013 to give the Caritas Community a good start when that charity was in its infancy and did not have financial resources,’ a spokesman for the Deanery Fund said.

‘However, since those early days Caritas now has sufficient resources to purchase the property themselves.

‘They have been offered the first right to purchase the property and declined to do so. It is, of course, a matter entirely for the directors of Caritas Community to determine its priorities.’

Mr Bellinger said that while Caritas does have substantial funds due to the generosity of others, although he would not say how much, the charity’s long-term vision is to create a residential community for homeless people.

This is being worked on with a UK-based charity that has experience in these kinds of projects and comes with an estimated price tag of around £1.5m.

‘The cafe is our showcase, it has helped thousands of people over the years, serving literally tens of thousands of meals to people in desperate need,’ he said.

‘For the last eight years we have enjoyed the amazing generosity of the Deanery so we can only hope that the next buyer of this property wants to keep it as the Caritas Community Cafe to support out work.’

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