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Community cafe networking event, June 2015

What was it?
The third Scottish-wide networking event for community café practitioners was held in June 2015. It was planned and run jointly by Community Food and Health (Scotland) or CFHS, Edinburgh Community Food (ECF) and members of Edinburgh Community Café Network (ECCN).

The event took place in St Andrew and St George’s Church in central Edinburgh. The Church’s café, Undercroft Café, is a member of ECCN.     

The event’s aims were to provide opportunities for participants to gain practical knowledge to help them run their cafes better, and time for networking and sharing good practice. The programme was designed to achieve these.


It focused on 4 short workshops, with everyone attending all four. The workshop’s topics were:

  • volunteering and managing volunteers
  • promotion and social media marketing
  • minimising costs and maximising output, and
  • about the healthyliving award (HLA).

The topics were chosen by members of the ECCN. Two of the workshops were facilitated by community café staff.

Forty people took part in the event. This included volunteers, staff and managers from cafes that were in the process of setting up, as well as established cafés.

Before leaving the event, everyone was asked to write down and display one action they intended to take forward as a result of taking part in the event. Six cafes did so. Four stated they intended to look at their menu costings, three were going to use social media to promote their cafes, one had registered for the healthyliving award at the event and another intended to, and two planned to contact people they’d met. One also wanted to look at setting up a local community café network.

What happened next?
Informal feedback from participants at and immediately after the event was positive. To find out if any had been able to use learning from the event, or had followed up any contacts they’d made, participants were asked for feedback – firstly in October 2015, then again in December if they had not responded. Feedback was received from 8 individuals or cafes, representing 17 of the 40 participants.

Participants were asked the following:

If they’d beeIMG_0996n able to use something they learned in the four workshops in their café?
If they’d been in touch with anyone they met at the event, or were planning to?
How they thought that CFHS could help their community café?

  • Four of the cafes stated that the day had been useful, and interesting or informative.
  • A third café was applying for the healthyliving award
  • One café was hosting a community café learning visit.
  • Two were intending to use social media to promote their cafes
  • Only one participant stated they intended to visit contacts made at the event, when time allowed
  • One participants stated that cafes she supported were intending to pilot a Soup and Stovies café, and use some of the learning from the workshops (social media, working with volunteers)
  • One café had begun revising their menu, and looking at costings
  • One was working closely with another café co-ordinator on a consultancy basis

In addition, one of the workshop leaders fed back that there had been interest in setting up a buddying scheme for café managers looking for additional support or advice.

Suggestions how CFHS could help their cafes included:

  • help with posters and wording promotional materials (two cafes)
  • recipe suggestions
  • more community café learning visits
  • training for café volunteers e.g. to run cookery classes and demonstration, to run a café kitchen, or for new community cafes.

Participants also wanted to highlight the following points:

  • it can be difficult to release staff to attend events
  • how community cafes can address food poverty, as well as building community capacity, should be stressed
  • café pricing needs to reflect the ability of the local community to buy it

CFHS would like to thank everyone involved with the event, especially the following:

Jean from St Andrew and George’s/Undercroft Café for her assistance with the event  planning, co-ordinating the use of the venue and the catering, and for facilitating a workshop.  Richard from the White House Kitchen for facilitating a workshop. Sally from Edinburgh Community Food for assisting with the event planning and for her input in one of the workshops. Nick from Volunteer Centre Edinburgh and Andrew from Scottish Community Development Centre for co-facilitating workshops.  Angela and Fiona from the healthyliving award for their support.


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