A COFFEE shop hoped to be the new hub of a village community has opened its doors for the first time.
Two years after discussions first began at St Barnabas Church in Swanmore, a new community coffee house opened on Saturday.
A study by the parish council found many of the village’s several thousand residents would like a coffee shop.
The church has since raised £20,000 towards the volunteer-led scheme.
Reverend Claire Towns said the Church Road coffee shop has been called Barnaby’s after the name of the church.
‘Swanmore is a village of a few thousand people but we had no coffee shop,’ she said.
‘As a church, we thought we would be in a good position to set one up.
‘A survey found people in the village would like a provision.
‘We didn’t want to be just a church serving instant coffee to people. We wanted to do it properly.
‘It is not being run as a business or a social enterprise.
‘We are going to be run by volunteers. We have set it up to look like any other coffee shop on the high street. We just want people to come in and have a really nice experience.
‘The diocese of Portsmouth donated £5,000 after we put in a bid, and as a church we match funded it.
‘The other money we have managed to raise has been donated by people in the village.
‘One person gave us a personal donation of £5,000 right at the beginning.
‘People have really been backing it.
‘We have bought a good quality coffee machine and our volunteers have been trained to use it. I am able to make coffees with it, too.
‘You can get a proper coffee from someone trained to be a barista.
‘We have set up a Twitter account and a Facebook page to help people find out about us.
‘We are going to put a sign outside to help people see us, too.
‘The parish magazine has been helping us.
‘We will be putting on offers sometimes Monday to Friday.
This week, the cafe will be open from 8.30am to 5pm.