Community cafe reopens one year on after flood damage

A community hub cafe in Washington which was forced to close its doors for a year due to flooding has this week been able to once again reopen to customers.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 3:24 pm

Bee Bees Coffee House at the Building Blocks Day Centre in Concord closed in January last year after a problem with the premise’s roof resulted in the cafe flooding and leaving owners Tori Hetherington and Lee Nicholson with a £10,000 bill.

The couple had to find the money themselves after the company who installed the roof went bust.

Lee, 42, said: “We were left with a massive hole which resulted in extensive damage to the cafe area and it has been really difficult to find the money to get everything repaired.

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"It’s unbelievable to be able to reopen again and get people back in. A lot of people have commented on how pleased they are to be able to come back and enjoy a cup of tea.

"They’ve also commented on how cheap the prices are but we’ve a lot of disadvantaged families who use the centre and one of our aims is to ensure food is affordable.”

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The cafe forms a focal part of the organisation’s underlying ethos to provide a community hub for people who may be struggling financially, socially and emotionally. The cafe grew from an initial support group established to help families with children with health concerns after their own son, Nate, five, was diagnosed with a serious heart condition.

Dannielle Thurston, 23, believes the community cafe provides "really valuable" support to local people.

Lee added: “The centre provides a place for people who are struggling to come and meet and having the cafe open provides a much more natural and relaxing environment to do this. We now have links to the local health centre and and social prescribers who are suggesting the cafe as a meeting place to have a chat and to not feel isolated.”

The centre offers a range of other support networks including a school uniform exchange service, book club, yoga sessions, toddler messy play group and breast feeding support.

Danielle Thurston, 23, who has started working at the cafe as part of the Government’s Kickstart scheme, said: “The cafe offers really valuable support for people in the community who are in need of help.”

The Bee Bees community cafe has been able to reopen to customers a year on from having to close due to flood damage.

Lee added: “Anyone who feels alone should get themselves down for a cup-of-tea and a chat.”

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Lee Nicholson and partner Tori Hetherington with two of their children at the Bee Bees Coffee House.

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The Bee Bees community cafe is part of the Building Blocks Day Centre which provides support to people in the local area.