Homelessness charity to run cafe in old Arts Lodge

Arts Lodge. 
Picture: Karen Rose
Arts Lodge. Picture: Karen Rose
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A HOMELESSNESS charity will run a cafe and provide support services for vulnerable people in the old Arts Lodge in Victoria Park, it was announced this morning.

Southampton-based The Society of St James have been announced as the operator for the new enterprise after Portsmouth City Council stepped in to take ownership of the building from previous owners Art & Soul Traders.

Five people were arrested during the repossession in February.

The charity, which has an operations base in Kingston Road, Fratton, says the building will be called ‘Cafe in the Park’ and is scheduled to open to the public in the first week of August.

Its primary daytime function will be as a cafe, with those across the city who have battled homelessless, substance and alcohol abuse encouraged to volunteer and get involved with the new business.

Training programmes to provide vulnerable people with new skills and qualifications will take place in the evenings.

The building has been entirely gutted from the inside with its large wall that previously faced the park pulled down to reveal a courtyard entrance.

Councillor Donna Jones, leader of the city council said: ‘I am delighted that the Society of St James have won the contract to run Cafe in the Park. We have a masterplan of how we want Victoria Park to look and this is phase one of that plan.

‘It is the best park in the city and this will bring people in to truly enjoy it and make better use of it.’

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