New home for Quarry Café and Community Fridge

PR2463/NW/MF - 21/09/2022

A popular community café in the Stone Quarry area of East Grinstead has been saved after Mid Sussex District Council provided them with a new home.

The Quarry Café and Community Fridge has been supporting the local community for over five years, initially as a community café, and expanding when the pandemic struck to providing a community fridge by collecting surplus food, creating ready meals, and sharing them with local people in need of a helping hand.

The future of this vital drop-in centre and food distribution facility was put in doubt recently when the group found out they needed to vacate their existing premises on Holtye Avenue. However, Mid Sussex District Council has now agreed a 30-year lease for the former Post Office in Hollands Way, that will enable the café and community fridge to continue providing services for Stone Quarry residents and the wider East Grinstead area, including nearby villages.

Sarah Howland, Director and Executive Manager for the Quarry Café and Community Fridge said:

“There are lots of local people who rely on the services we provide at the Quarry Café and Community Fridge, so it’s fantastic that we’ve been able to find a new home in the same area.

“We have a wonderful team of volunteers who help us to run the café, which provides a place for the community to meet up and enjoy quality food and drink at affordable prices. We also help to prevent food waste by collecting surplus food, sharing it amongst the community and making meals for those who need a helping hand.

“All of this great work can continue now that we have secured a long-term base in the Stone Quarry area and we’re grateful to Mid Sussex District Council and Clarion Futures for the help and support they have provided.

"We’re a key member of the Mid Sussex Food Partnership and we will be working together to further expand our reach and meet demands. The Food Partnership is creating a strong support network for all projects involved in helping alleviate food poverty within Mid Sussex.

“Renovation work at the new Café and Community Fridge is already underway and we’ll be working flat out to get it ready to open in late October or early November.”

Councillor Norman Webster, Mid Sussex District Council Cabinet Member for Community said:

“When I heard that the Quarry Café and Community Fridge needed to find a new home, I immediately thought of the old Post Office building. The building has been empty for over three years and was close to being sold, so we had to move quickly and work hard to secure the building for this vital community service.

“The old Post Office has the potential to enable the Quarry Café and Community Fridge to expand their existing services and it’s located very close to their old premises, so they will remain right in the heart of the community.

“This project will bring an empty property back into use and will safeguard the long-term future of a vital community facility. The Council won’t be charging any rent for the first five years of the 30-year lease, which will afford the Quarry Café and Community Fridge some financial breathing room while they renovate their new home and turn it into a vibrant community hub.”

Charitable Foundation, Clarion Futures is contributing approximately £70,000 towards the refurbishment, furnishing and decoration of the new café, with the help of one of their contractors United Living, who will deliver a significant amount of the refurbishment work through Social Value.

Nicky Dodds, Regional Communities Manager – South Region for Clarion Futures said:

“We have been working with the community in Stone Quarry for about 10 years now and have built very strong relationships with Sarah Howland, her fabulous team of volunteers, local residents and also with local Councillors who have always been very supportive of the work that we do.  Clarion Futures are very proud to be a key stakeholder in this development and have been committed to seeing this project come into fruition for some time now. It demonstrates what fantastic achievements can be made by listening to the needs of the community and working in partnership to address them.”

Clarion Futures will be hosting a community event at the Hollands Way play area, next to the new Quarry Café and Community Fridge from 11am – 2pm on 25 October to shine a spotlight on the new café opening. Refreshments will be provided and there will be the opportunity for local residents to meet representatives from Clarion Housing, Clarion Futures, Mid Sussex District Council, United Living and The Quarry Café and Community Fridge.