Healthy eating on the menu at Easington community café

Marie Barker, UMi Service and Investment Adviser, recently volunteered with the Café Together Project in Easington Colliery.

Set up in 2013, the Café Together Project is a charitable organisation to help locals who are struggling on low incomes or on benefits, or affected by the high level of isolation and deprivation in the Easington community.

Every Thursday morning Café Together provides a hot meal, often with a starter or a dessert, and asks for a contribution of only £1. All meals are prepared and served by volunteers. On average, 40 meals are served each week, but this can rise up to 75 during school holidays.

The café has a strong focus on inclusion and volunteers get training on issues like language barriers, mental health and disability awareness so they can offer all customers a warm welcome. The café also runs a course on how to cook healthy, filling meals for the family when on a tight budget.

Marie said: “It astounds me that this amazing service, which is just down the road from me, is relied upon by so many people, and yet itself is so dependent on food donations and the generosity of local businesses.

“But what surprises me even more is that the Café Together Project is so much more than a café, and it’s clear that lasting friendships between customers and volunteers have been built over the last few years.”

It also gets great support from local businesses like the Durham County Credit Union, whose staff visit each week to give money advice, as well as processing customers’ account deposits and helping with other banking matters to save them having to travel to the branch. Marie said: “Some of these customers wouldn’t normally even think of opening an account but they are guided through the entire process, to help keep their money safe.”

If you can offer any donations, whether it’s food supplies or your time, please get in touch with the Café by email: [email protected]. They are also on Facebook and have a website:

UMi actively encourages staff to get involved with community projects across the country, allowing them time to volunteer, particularly with small local charities in the communities where the team live and work.