What is a community cafe? 

A community cafe should provide a cleanwelcoming and safe environment for different community groups - inclusive spaces. Some cafes will provide this for their immediate community. Others may be a hub for a specific group such as the recovery community in Edinburgh and Lothians.

A community cafe usually will address issues around sustainabilitycommunity cohesion and inclusion. They may be a revenue earner, or offer training opportunities or be a focal point for centre users and local people. Others may be part of a sports club or a leisure centre, offering refreshments to those taking part in activities or to chaperoning spectators. 

These cafes may all be very different from one another: however, they often have and work towards similar aims: 

  • Friendly and welcoming atmosphere
  • Sociable places preventing isolation
  • Promoting healthier eating and be affordable
  • Fair trade and local (where possible) and ethical 

Many of the cafes are Fundraising initiatives (here are a few examples among our ~50 cafes). 

  • Autism Initiatives have two cafes which run as social enterprises Funds are used to develop activities providing a focus for adults with autism as well as the wider community. 
  • Cafe on the Corner help support adults on the Autism Spectrum, raising awareness and creating occupational placements. 
  • The Hermitage is a centre with a dance studio, therapy room and a 12 hole golf course. 
  • Cafe Life in Stockbridge supports independence and wellbeing of the elderly and their families. 
  • The Broomhouse Cafe Training Project provides lunch clubs for dementia groups and other special needs groups as well as running training projects to young offenders. 
  • The Forest Café is a volunteer-run, collectively-owned, free arts and events project that was founded in 2000. They run a vegetarian café and a big block of studios and facilities to provide dedicated spaces for people to get involved in any creative activity imaginable. Events have included music, theatre, dancing, yoga, massage, poetry recitals, art displays, knit-ins, book tours, language teaching, monster-bike making and more.

What is the Community Cafe Network? 

The Network brings the different cafes together to help increase the community cafe brand and to bridge, bond and link their social capital. As a network, we aim to share skills, training and knowledge, as well as increase the impact the different cafes have within their assorted communities.

Community cafes in the network support one another & work on projects which benefit everyone. The network is facilitated by Edinburgh Community Food and supported by the Healthyliving award and NHS Lothian. 

The healthyliving award rewards caterers in Scotland for dishing up healthier food and helping their customers make better food choices.  We at Edinburgh Community food can support cafes in successful application of the award.

The community café group is part of an NHS Lothian project to actively promote 'Breastfeeding Friendly' spaces and some of the cafes display this sticker.

This means that staff have had awareness training on the benefits of breastfeeding and there is visible encouragement and comfortable places for women who would like to do this.  It's already illegal in the UK to ask a woman to stop breastfeeding, but this is different, it is making sure she feels supported and encouraged if she choses to.

We're always looking for more cafes to display the stickers and posters and to get the training.  If you're interested to find out more, please get in touch with Jo on 0131 467 7326 or [email protected]