Lottery cash boost for Doncaster community cafe scheme

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A Doncaster community café that trains volunteers, helping them into work, has received a cash injection and facelift.

The Ark Café in Rossington, run by Holmescarr Ark and Crafts, secured a £195,000 grant from the Big Lottery to support more volunteers, appoint four new staff and refurbish the premises. The kitchen has now been enlarged and updated to train more people in catering and customer service, the café has been re-decorated and an extension is planned.

Hannah Stokes, Aaron Stokes and Jake Davies are pictured with items they created during a cake-decorating class there.

Operating as a combined training facility and local business, the cafe sells a wide choice of meals and refreshments between 8.30am and 3pm every weekday.

It is run by Holmescarr Ark and Crafts, a not-for-profit organisation that offers varied opportunities for learning and recreation to help local people improve their skills and confidence and discover new interests.

It runs arts and craft classes every weekday for residents of all ages and abilities, including those with learning difficulties, along with a garden and allotment project for which people can volunteer.

Holmescarr Ark and Crafts has also been awarded £13,000 from the Humber Learning Consortium to recruit more volunteers. A variety of roles are available in the café or gardens plus classroom support, marketing, administration and fundraising. Last year, almost 20 café volunteers progressed to paid employment or further training.

Evening classes will also be introduced for the first time in the New Year. Tutor Heather Maw said the programme was yet to be finalised but would include a wide choice of activities. “We already run popular classes ranging from pottery to card-making so extending into the evening will make sessions accessible to people who aren’t available during the day,” she added.

Holmescarr Ark and Crafts is urging potential volunteers to get in touch and is also appealing for donations of unwanted tables and chairs to furnish the new-look café in a “shabby chic” style. Items can be collected from local addresses.

For more details about classes, volunteering or furniture donations, telephone Holmescarr Ark and Crafts on 01302 215051, email or call in to the Holmescarr Centre on Grange Lane.