'Grace Place' cafe opens in South Shields town centre offering food, drink, warmth and company
The new venue opened its doors in the Denmark Centre, with permission to operate as a cafe and a five-star food hygiene rating from South Tyneside Council.
The Grace Place team offer a ‘free cuppa and a scone’ as well as place to pray and a base to offer to support to people in the community.
The project had been in the works before the pandemic, but covid hampered plans.
It was born out of work done in the community by churches in the borough, and it will be officially opened by a senior church leader at the weekend.
Rev’d Sonia Hicks, president of the Methodist Conference, and her vice-president, Barbara Easton, will visit South Shields on Saturday, November 20, and will officially open the Fowler Street venue at 11am.
Organiser Dr Angela Lishman said Grace Place is not a completely new endeavour, and came after the work done my members of Methodist Churches in the area over the years in providing an occasional presence in the town centre, originally based in a vacant shop on King Street.
She said Grace Place has been operating since the summer on three days a week, but the formal opening by Rev’d Hicks, leader of the Methodist Church in Britain, will put an official stamp of approval on the hard work of the local team of volunteers.
Dr Lishman said: “Several years ago a group of us realised that there was a need to provide somewhere warm and comfortable offering friendship, support and a cup of tea to anyone in the community.
"This proved to be the case and in 2019 we had the opportunity to put our outreach onto a permanent basis.
"With financial help from the wider church, the local authority, and others we negotiated a lease on our new premises in Fowler St. and began to fit it out. Unfortunately, before we could open the pandemic intervened.”
Grace Place is one of a number community projects run by religious groups in South Tyneside as members work to help others.