New "second chance" community café to open at Newcastle Cathedral

Newcastle Cathedral
Credit: Newcastle Cathedral

A new community café will be opening at Newcastle Cathedral this summer, in partnership with Northumberland-based charity, The Oswin Project - offering a second chance to people who have been rehabilitated in prison.

Café 16 will offer training, mentoring and employment to a team consisting exclusively of prison leavers (or 'Oswinners' as the charity calls them) to enable them to get their lives back on track.

It will follow the same model as The Oswin Project’s already successful café in HMP Northumberland, with employment and training to encourage independence, personal growth, and fulfilling lives to prevent re-offending.

The Cathedral café will be supplied with freshly-made produce and baked goods from its bakery in HMP Northumberland. Workers will gain experience, be supported and mentored, train, and achieve qualifications in catering, baking, cleaning, and other aspects to café operations. The charity says those currently on the programme have provided extremely positive feedback, reporting increased self-confidence, perceptions of competence, and a growing optimism regarding life after prison.

The Reverend Canon Peter Dobson, Newcastle Cathedral’s Canon for Outreach and Discipleship, says they're delighted to be able to provide this opportunity.

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) has provided financial support for the programme through its Customer and Community Investment Fund (CCIF).

David Horne, Managing Director of LNER, says, “We’re incredibly proud to be supporting Newcastle Cathedral and The Oswin Project in helping people find their way into employment. The introduction of Café 16 will provide opportunities to learn new skills and gain experience, in a safe and supportive environment, and is just the latest initiative that we’ve been able to support through our Customer and Community Investment Fund.”

Café 16 at the Cathedral will open in August 2021 to coincide with Newcastle Cathedral’s reopening, following completion of its historic transformation project, ‘Common Ground in Sacred Space’.