Cheap, healthy food, tea and a free side-helping of sympathy if needed is now on a plate at a new community cafe in one of Sheffield’s most deprived areas.
Tea Junction has been cooked up by local vicar’s wife Tina Hodges.
The 47-year-old former nurse from City Road set up the cafe in the converted pub housing her husband Jasper’s Beacon Church and Community Centre on the Arbourthorne.
Says Tina, a mum of three who is associate minister at the church: “I sat in a health forum recently listening to the area I live in being described as among the worst for certain diseases with much of the reason being poor diet and lifestyle and I wanted to do something.
“A number of people in our church and community had wanted to see a cafe here for some time. There are lots of takeaway venues on Arbourthorne but very few places where you can sit down and digest your food properly and have a chat.”
Tea Junction opened in January and is open 9am-5.30pm Monday to Saturday. Its base, the old Fellbrigg pub, is at a T-junction on Arbourthorne, hence the name.
“Making ends meet on a low income or on benefits is a real stretch for many people so we’ve made the prices fit people’s pockets and we subsidise what we can,” Tina explains.
But quality and the importance of healthy eating has not been forsaken for low prices.
“We have salads, sandwiches, a healthy cooked meal of the day at around £3.50 or £2 for children and fresh fruit smoothies,” says Tina.
“Tea is just 50p and we’ve been told we have the best breakfast in Sheffield. It’s £3.50 with a low-fat slimmers’ version at £3.25; people in S2 just have to roll out of bed and cross the road to get it!
But often customers come for a free side-order of conversation: “Because the cafe is in a church and community centre we get a lot of people facing all kinds of challenges and tragedies like bereavement, illness or redundancy and there’s almost always people to talk to.”
To promote health and local employment, fresh food is locally-sourced.
Fruit and vegetables come from Stuart’s in Castle Market, bread and scones are from Brook Bakery in Wincobank, milk and free range eggs hail from Price’s in Eckington.
“Our Pollard’s coffee at £1.50 is half the price of Starbucks,” boast Tina.
The Tea Junction team, Nigel Halliwell, Robbie Bain, Vernon Smith and Ruth Ledger, are looking for more volunteers to help out.