The countdown is on to the opening of a new community shop and cafe located in the back of Holy Trinity Church in Amberley.
From vision to reality, the Shop on the Common has been six years in the making and is a Community Benefit Society, which means it will always be owned and supported by the local community.
John Spiers, the Associate Priest said, “When the church was approached by the community shop committee to use space in the church for a shop reactions ranged from a straight ‘no’, to ‘amazing, yes’. The shop project raises the question ‘whose church is it?’ The congregation members are the custodians of the church on behalf of the village, keeping it maintained, open for worship, prayer, and as a place of peace and sanctuary for anyone.
“The shop and café are part of our ministry of welcome. Anyone who walks through the church door is welcome.”
The shop and cafe have been built in the old church lobby, only encroaching a couple of metres into the church building. The aim was to make the development as sustainable as possible, using reclaimed wood from old pews for the serving counter and upcycling tables and chairs. Air source heat pumps for the shop and the church have been installed as part of the project, and a bespoke screen, designed to be in keeping with the style of the rest of the church separates the cafe from the main church building.
The coffee served comes from Ethical Addictions which is a local company and they are sourcing cakes from the Lavender Bakehouse in Chalford. The church is charging a peppercorn rent to the enterprise and any small surplus that the shop makes will be reinvested in maintaining the shop and the church building, or used for the good of the community.
Over 60 volunteers have signed up to help run the self-contained cafe and shop between 8am and 4pm. The church is open daily between 7am and 7pm providing a quiet space for reflection and worship. This, together with the toddler groups which run in the bright basement of the building, mean that the church can continue to be a hub for meeting, socialising and friendship in the village and also allow worship to be at the centre of village life.
Volunteer Deb Herbert, who is assisting volunteer co-ordinator Alison Truphet in training the volunteers, moved to the village 18 months ago and is enjoying using her skills learned when running her own business.
She said, “Community is really important to me, and this is a really quick way to get to know people. We have 11 people on the management committee all of whom are contributing hugely to the project but with particular mention of Neil Truphet who is project managing the building alterations. The beautiful screen has convinced anyone who still needed a little persuasion, that the dual use for the building will be successful.”
The team are hoping that the shop will open in June.