Serving up lots of refreshing support for its community

Terminus CafeTerminus Cafe
Terminus Cafe
Tucked away in the corner of a modest row of shops, the Terminus Cafe in Lowedges looks like any other.

But step inside and you soon realise this is no ordinary eatery which just whisks up sandwiches and pots of tea.

Not many cafes can say they have helped struggling single mothers, people with mental illness or old people who feel lonely. But Terminus can.

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Lowedges RoadLowedges Road
Lowedges Road

Lowedges is a place where people look out for each other, embodied in a humble cafe where volunteers are eager to lend a helping hand along with making a cracking cuppa for those who pass through its doors.

Starting out in 2002 from the empty shell of a former butchers, a group from the nearby Methodist church set out to help the community.

They asked the community what people wanted and got blunt answers.

Local people expressed a desire for a drop-in centre for older folk who may be isolated to visit and socialise in safety. At the time, the estate was going through difficulties with anti-social behaviour and drugs.

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So a group of community-minded people had the idea of setting up a community cafe in this south-west corner of Sheffield to help those in need.

The Terminus Initiative, to give its full name, was born through a partnership of four churches – Greenhill Methodist Church, St Peter’s CofE, The Michael URC and South Sheffield Evangelical Church.

Now in its 15th year, the Terminus Cafe sees dozens of people, young and old, come through its doors.

It is a venture renowned wide and far – and has been visited by delegations from both UK-based and overseas organisations.

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One of the founders is Greg Unwin. Along with health improvement manager Pam Daniel and a group of selfless volunteers, they help run this community cafe welcoming anyone who walks through the door.

Greg, aged 64, took the task on and admitted he never thought they would reach this point and only took on the tenancy for the building for six months to see how it went. The rest is history.

People will come in, have a cup of tea and sit and chat for hours to other people because it gets them out of the house,” he said.

“For people on Lowedges who might be isolated, suffer from problems with mental health, the Terminus is a great place to come.

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Greenhill Park, LowedgesGreenhill Park, Lowedges
Greenhill Park, Lowedges

“We are extremely grateful to our volunteers who come in and help out but at the same time they are also grateful to have this place so they can contribute to their community and keep busy.

“It’s become a community hub and a first port of call for people who might want to access other services. We can’t do everything ourselves, but we point people in the right direction and make calls to help.”

Pam Daniel, 45, got involved with the Terminus Initiative around eight years ago, volunteering to help refugees and asylum seekers.

“Lowedges is a special community,” she said.

“People look out for each other and if someone is feeling a bit down, there will be plenty of people who will rally around you.

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“What’s unique about the Terminus Cafe compared to other cafes is there’s a different feel. No one is judged and people feel comfortable.

Lowedges featureLowedges feature
Lowedges feature

“People have just knocked on the door in the past because they’re in a desperate situation and they don’t know where else to turn with all sorts of problems.

“We have a fantastic relationship with the Grace Foodbank for example and we provide a starting point for people to access help, whatever that may be.”

One of those to benefit was 57-year-old Peter Marrin. He now helps out behind the counter.

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“I love coming here, It’s a safe place where I can really relax,” he said.

“It’s a place where I can come and put problems to one side. I didn’t have loads of confidence when I first came but coming here has helped me so much. The people are great and we have lots of laughs.”

A sprawling estate stretching from Meadowhead to the east and Bradway in the west, Lowedges comprises a mix of council and private properties. Situated right on the boundary with Derbyshire, it’s just a short hop into the country.

Around 65 years ago, Lowedges was nothing more than a selection of farms. The post-war housing boom made its way onto the area and hundreds of homes were built with its first residents moving in in 1953.

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Fast forward six decades and Lowedges is one of Sheffield’s biggest housing estates with a huge community festival to boot.

The estate was even made famous when Lowedges Crescent was used for shots in Channel 4’s award-winning TV series This is England.

Growing every year, the Lowedges Festival on the popular Greenhill Park off Gresley Road attracts in the region of 15,000 people every year.

Harry Hunter is one of the festival organisers. Originally from Edinburgh, he moved to Sheffield 35 years ago and got involved in the area in the early 90s with the Lowedges Community and Safety Forum when EU money became available to help less affluent estates.

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“The place had its problems in the early 90s. It did have a reputation, some of it unfair but some of it just.

“Lowedges has changed for the better. I think it’s more of a proper community now than it’s ever been. Groups are working closely together and people support each other.

“Some of that community spirit has definitely rubbed off on the Lowedges Festival. We get thousands of people turn out and it’s fantastic to see.”

Best friends Laraine Livermore, 62, and Pam Jepson, 60, stop to chat at Lowedges Hardware store on the bus terminus shops.

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Both women have lived on the estate for most of their lives and went to Bradway County Primary School together, now Lowedges Academy.

Pam said: “It’s one of those places where you might live five minutes from the shops but get stopped by two or three people on your walk down for a chat.

“Areas change and people come and go but the people who live here are so friendly – it’s what makes it for me.

Laraine said: “The people here are great, I’ve moved from Lowedges but I’m always popping over to see people all the time. I’ve always found if you need anything, you can always rely on someone around here to help you out.”

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