Published: 00:01, 24 January 2018
Generous customers at a Whitstable cafe are funding free food and drinks for those most in need as part of a newly-launched scheme.
Revival Ice Cream Parlour and Veggie Bar in Oxford Street, run by mental health charity Mind, is using a 'pay-it-forward' initiative, which allows people to donate money that others can then use to buy from the menu.
The cafe, which is a non-profit social enterprise, has encouraged its customers to support the scheme.
“We are aware, as part of a mental health charity, that food poverty is on the increase, particularly for the working poor, who often fall through the net,” said general manager Deborah Haylett.
“We know that it can have a big impact on mental health.”
Ms Haylett says zero-hour contracts, welfare cuts and the introduction of universal credit are among factors contributing to a rise in “hidden hungry” people in the UK.
“It’s a demographic that’s growing in every community and it’s a hidden problem,” she explained.
“People may have nice clothes and not be officially homeless, but they may actually not be able to afford food or electricity.”
Revival’s scheme has already received more than £180 in donations.
“The Whitstable community has been amazing,” said Ms Haylett, who lives in the town.
“We’ve been inundated with support.
“We now have money in the pot so we want people to come in and use it.”
Users of the service are able to choose items from the shop’s menu, which will then be paid for by donations.
“We’re not going to police people who come in, and ask how poor they are. We work on trust,” said Ms Haylett.
“All staff are aware that users are to be treated exactly the same as paying customers.”
Revival was set up in 2016. Profits from the business go towards improving mental health services in the area.
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