At Discovery Catering we meet each week to cook and share a meal together. We enjoy doing this but decided we needed more of a challenge. So we decided to try and share our food with the wider community by having a pop-up cafe. We spent time planning, doing some market research to find out what people would like, we planned menus that would include ethical, sustainable and compassionate food goals that reflect the values of bemix (formerly Skillnet Group).  This has been a big draw for customers looking for local, fresh and/or ethical food.  The large, welcoming venue is also great for customers with small children who find it hard to sit still at a table for long!
Everyone plays an important role in making the cafes work. 
"I like preparing the meals. Our volunteer John helped me to put the meals on plates at the last cafe.” - Leon

"I like being the waitress because I enjoy talking to people, serving the food and cleaning the tables ready for the next customers.” - Emma

We decided to have a trial pop-up in March to see if it was something we could do and other people would want to come to. It was a great success - a sell out in fact! We sold all the food we had prepared and even had to make a veggie tart half way through to feed the many hungry customers. The group had originally started in Dover, and had run a café in the Discovery Centre.  Everyone was keen to do something similar again in the busier city of Canterbury.  Running the café has been a great opportunity for people in the group to get work experience and people have been really helpful in volunteering their skills to support the project.  Brenda has been using her book keeping skills to help manage the café takings.
"I have really enjoyed seeing people I support grow in confidence, for example Sam carrying the drinks confidently and carefully. It is good that we are accepted for who we are by the people who come to the cafe.” Ann Marie
”I feel really proud of the way everyone has joined in enthusiastically and been so positive, even with the extra washing up!” - Karen
”It’s nice to see everyone working as a team and helping each other. People have shown their support
by being very generous.” - Brenda

Since then we have held monthly cafes. Each time is a different experience and we are learning a lot. We have met some really interesting people and have enjoyed sharing what we do and making new friends. Running the café gives us the opportunity to engage with the wider community and include them in what we are doing.  Group member, Dan, has been working with one of the café volunteers, Shelia, to welcome customers and going out into the street and telling people about the café and inviting them in.
”It’s nice to see people come in that we have talked to." - Dan
”It’s good to have the community involvement with the group, to share food and ideas and to get feedback." - Sheila