OWL Cafe

This is the latest news, printed in our April-May 2018 issue; there is an online survey where you can share your views:

At the time of writing this we are in the situation of knowing that Papworth Trust are not going to renew their lease on the building that has been the OWL Cafe for the last fifteen years, writes Rev. Bruce Waldron of Sawston Free Church.

The OWL Cafe opened as a partnership between Opportunities Without Limits (OWL), established by Kevin and Angela McMullen, and Sawston Free Church, with a joint vision to provide a place for people with learning difficulties and be a vibrant part of the community. This partnership jointly fund raised and as a result a fifteen-year lease was drawn up giving OWL use of the cafe for “a peppercorn rent”.

Papworth Trust inherited this lease in 2010. The lease expires in July this year and in February they informed the church that they considered the cafe no longer viable for them to run and will close it on 25th May.

Sawston Free Church is very sad that the cafe is closing and would like to thank everyone for the wonderful messages of support and encouragement we have received. We are endeavouring to devise a usage of the space that will reflect the cares and interests of the original vision the church had for this place when the OWL Cafe was begun. It will take us some time to invent the best use for this building, but please know we are working hard on it because we know how much good this cafe has given to our community. Please keep us all in your prayers and continue to offer us your invaluable support.

When news of the OWL Cafe’s imminent closure broke several people approached me, writes Duncan Catchpole, being someone who is both connected with the church and has a background in social enterprise and food, as a potential person to look at what happens next with the cafe. I was more than happy to join the task group which was hastily assembled to assess the situation and options for the future.

The OWL cafe is clearly much loved by lots of people in Sawston; the post on Sawston’s Facebook page generated many supportive comments, several of which called for some kind of rescue package. Sadly, a rescue package is not an option; when the cafe closes its doors on the 25th of May that will be the end of the OWL Cafe as we know it. However, sad as this is, it should also be looked upon as an opportunity for a fresh start; a chance to revamp the space and to re-open an exciting new facility.

We’ve got a good team of people, and some great ideas, but we’d love to hear yours as well: we welcome any feedback and invite readers to participate in an online survey.

We are also looking for potential volunteers. Our message is ‘Don’t Despair’, there is clearly a desire for the space to continue to serve the community as a cafe and our team is seriously looking into this.