A new start for caring cafe

Dorothy Bowker, Jo Haynes and Caroline Davenport at The Bridge, the new name for Leigh Caring Kitchen
Dorothy Bowker, Jo Haynes and Caroline Davenport at The Bridge, the new name for Leigh Caring Kitchen

A community cafe serving unwanted food has reopened its doors - and looks set to be bigger and better.

Leigh Caring Kitchen had to shut last year after breaching health and safety standards.

Leigh does have a need for this. When we closed, we had to reopen because of the public outcry that we needed it.

Dorothy Bowker

But it has now reopened in the former King Street Methodist School premises and is being given a new lease of life.

The organisation has been renamed The Bridge - not because of its location next to Leigh Bridge but because the team wants to “build bridges in the community”.

The community cafe has returned, while a new food market and charity shop have been added.

Trustee and secretary Dorothy Bowker said: “The community cafe is the hub of it. We use surplus donated food. It’s all about food waste, as well as food poverty. We are trying to use as much food waste as we can so it doesn’t go to landfill. It’s the supermarket overstock and things given to us. Meals are made from as much of that as possible.

“We have some left over and that’s what’s in the food market.

“It’s pay as you feel in the cafe and the food market, so people can give what they can. If they have nothing, we don’t turn anybody away.”

The food market opened last week and has already proved to be popular.

Mrs Bowker said: “On Monday we had a queue for the food market. It was quite busy.”

There are no set prices for the community cafe and food market, but people are asked to pay what they can afford.

That means that all kinds of people visit The Bridge.

As well as helping to reduce food waste, the scheme is making a difference to people in need.

Mrs Bowker said: “Leigh does have a need for this. When we closed, we had to reopen because of the public outcry that we needed it.

“If someone suddenly finds they have been sanctioned or have no money and find themselves in a difficult situation, they need help.

“There have been a lot of ladies with children who might have to choose between heating and eating.”

The new charity shop - named The Bridge Boutique - sells a range of items, such as clothes, books, CDs and gifts.

The money it raises is used to help keep the project going.

The Bridge is always looking for donations and volunteers.

The cafe is open from 10am to 2pm on weekdays, while the food market runs from 10am to 4pm.