Good Times at The Ark
There have been so many wonderful moments at TLC that it is hard to pick out the highlights; cheesy though it sounds, every time TLC opened, there was a magical moment, a story, an anecdote that liftedup those who witnessed it.
BBC Radio Leeds, particularly the team behind Richard Stead, have been regular supporters of the cafe, and asked to present one of their Christmas roadshow shows, live, from the cafe in 2016. It was a great morning; the cafe was full of regulars and new guests, from across the city, including two ballerinas from Northern Ballet, a local baker, and a student music group who sang their version of Band Aid live for the crowd and radio.
Highlights are also the quieter moments; when we celebrated an asylum seeker’s daughter’s first birthday and the mother told me that she couldn’t have imagined a better day for her daughter that day, and how special it was to be with other people on that day.
There were also the regular magical moments of connection between people who, on the surface, seemed to be worlds apart. The Jew and the Muslim, the asylum seeker and the professional businessman, the young Pakistani boy and the white British elderly lady.
Due to the positive connections with CATCH and the Ark, new groups emerged using the space during the day, and the cafe became part of their story too:
The gardening group who would use the compost that we were creating from the surplus food that had turned before it could be eaten, and then we would use the fresh salad leaves in the salads served in the cafe.
There was also a ‘doodle club’: A table occupied by a local artist and his resources on Wednesday mornings, where he invited people to sit with him and doodle. This was powerful, particularly for an elderly Afghani lady who was always shy due to her lack of English. Always regularly visiting the cafe, she felt truly safe and comfortable around that table with a piece of paper and pencil or colours in her hand.
Due to the amazing efforts of one particular local lady, TLC hosted two special fundraising coffee mornings; one for Macmillan as part of their national campaign, and one as part of The Great Get Together with the Jo Cox Foundation.
Over the summer, particular focus was on the local families in the area, providing a space for the children to access food and healthy meals while school was closed, and Richard McCann got involved in a fundraising motivational speaking one day marathon, ending at the Ark in front of the youth group.