Jacqui Shimidzu runs The Hill Station Café, in Lewisham, South London. The Hill Station houses a community café, shop and exhibition space, and has become an ever-changing venue for social change and creativity.
“Those of us running the Hill Station Café have a strong commitment to our local community and to running an open space that anyone can access. Magic happens as a result of our light reign touch. Our program responds to the immediate community needs with a healthy sprinkling of fun.” This is what Jacqui said of the beloved café she runs. During this crisis, The Hill Station has continued to support the community around it.
The people who work at the café wanted to engage with the community and became part of a Mutual Aid group for the local area. They sent out an amazing 5000 flyers in their community, in an attempt to build a network. Usually, the café run an over 70s film club for those in the local community, alongside an organisation called Just Older Youth. The café has reached out to them, letting them know that any support that they need, they are here to help.
“We’re just a group of strangers who’ve come together and set up a WhatsApp group, as a result of the leafleting. If someone needs supplies, prescriptions collected, or even just a chat, they put it in the group and someone will support them. We’re lucky to have such a close-knit community”
The Station Hill Café is closed for the moment but because they’re a community café they have the contacts to order sacks of flour, trays of eggs, and other long-life staples to support the community.
They recently held a soup kitchen at their café, supporting those in the community who need it. They made plenty and have frozen more for future. They also deliver boxes of fruit, veg and staples to those in isolation and or in need, as well as NHS workers. They’ve also set up a designated Chicken Team to look after the chickens that live at their local Adventure Playground. Back at the end of March, they were running lots of errands for people and had a strong 300 volunteer team. What an incredible response!
Jacqui told us “My advice would be to take the relevant precautions, whilst thinking of others. We’re always looking for more time for ourselves, and now we’ve got it – I’ll be doing some decorating! As for communities, there is always support for people.” It seems that although the café doors may be shut, this community café is never closed.