The Devon Vicar Loving Her Neigh-bours by Opening New Community Horsebox Café
A Devon Vicar – The Reverend Wiz Slater – has taken advantage of lockdown to set up a pop-up community café in a refurbished horsebox to serve the local community.
Wiz is the Team Rector for the Clyst Mission Community in East Devon and is based in Pinhoe in Exeter. Ever since moving to the area in 2018, she and her husband have been interested in setting up a community cafe.
“We both really love hospitality and, when I first came for an interview here, we looked at the space at the end of the drive and my husband thought it would be a great spot for a pop-up café.”
When lockdown began, Wiz and her husband finally had time to revisit the idea and started thinking about how they could serve their local community.
“We live on the corner of the street where all the parents doing the school run go past in the morning. You notice that after school drop-off, there are loads of parents just stood out on the street chatting, with nowhere really to go.”
The inspiration behind the café came from visiting county shows and seeing people serving coffee out of refurbished horseboxes.
“We decided pretty quickly that was what we wanted to do, so to try and raise some money we came up with this idea of rowing the distance of four local rivers on a rowing machine, so we called it Row4Pinhoe, and set up a GoFundMe page.”
“I managed to find a lovely local couple who convert these horseboxes and spoke to them about what it would cost. Money was coming in, but fairly slowly and I was praying ‘Lord, what’s going on, should I be doing this?’ The following day, someone phoned me and said that every time they walk past, they had felt God saying ‘you need to do this’ and they basically bought the horsebox, which is amazing!”
The Horsebox Café will be not-for-profit, and each customer can pay what they choose.
“I know there’s quite a lot of families who are really struggling financially and I wanted somewhere people could have a really nice ‘coffee shop’ experience, with great coffee and homemade cake, whilst only paying what they can afford to pay, People can just drop some money in if they want, and not if they don’t.”
The café officially opened on the 17th July which was the last day of the school term, so parents were able to enjoy a coffee after the school drop-off.
It will be opening every Friday from 08.45am to 11am throughout the summer holidays and, due to COVID-19 restrictions, it will initially be takeaway only.
When social-distancing restrictions ease, they hope to create an area where people can sit and congregate.
“As a family, we have always held the bible verse about God placing the lonely in families. We’ve always wanted to be a family where people can find somewhere they belong, so part of this is about opening our home, well our garden, to people as somewhere they can come and not be lonely, and whoever they are, they’ll find a warm welcome with no strings attached.”
Wiz and her husband still need to raise more money for the café. You can support them by making a donation on their Row4Pinhoe GoFundMe page.
You can find out more about the cafe here: https://www.facebook.com/The-Horsebox-108050550984514/