Faith in the community: new city centre cafe will lift community spirit

by the Rev Annie McCabe, vicar, St Luke's Church, Southsea
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Our new Host Café is an ideal place to meet, to eat and to connect with others in the community.

We hope that the café, which is based at St Luke’s Church in Southsea, will be a thriving hub for students, those working in central Portsmouth, and local people. We can offer decent coffee, sandwiches, salads and home-made cakes, among other delicious things on the menu.

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We decided to turn our church hall into this new café, with an authentic coffee machine, atmospheric lighting and comfy chairs. It’s open from 9am until 3.30pm, Monday to Thursday.

The Rev Annie McCabe with customers at the Host CafeThe Rev Annie McCabe with customers at the Host Cafe
The Rev Annie McCabe with customers at the Host Cafe

It will also give some much-needed experience to young people and volunteers who can learn about catering and café management. And it should also be a showcase for artwork created by pupils at the neighbouring Charter Academy. All our profits will be re-invested into the community.

It’s all part of a wider project to make our church, hall, car park and gardens into a more welcoming space for those who live, work and study in the centre of the city. We’ve developed the hall after major work to repair and conserve the outside of the church, and refurbish the internal worship area to create a co-working space.

And we want The Host Cafe to be run as a proper commercial café, so we’ve appointed a manager and an assistant, and tried to make sure that everything we do is high quality.

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We’ve been open for a couple of weeks and our customers include those who work in the church, students living in the blocks of flats around us, congregation members, and people from the local area. Various groups, such as the police and city council want to use the café as a base to discuss issues with local residents.

We already have some young people from The Foyer, which is next door, who are learning about the business as volunteers. We’d love to be able to have an apprentice, who can train here as part of a vocational course, based here each year.

And in the summer, we’ll have tables and chairs in the garden, which has already been revamped, and we hope that will be a great place for people to sit and chat in the fresh air.

If you happen to be in the area, do pop in and I hope you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what we can offer. For details, see and

ST LUKE’S CHURCH, Greetham Street, Southsea, PO5 4LH

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