On Monday 30th October people gathered at St Mary Magdalen Church in Chapelfields to celebrate the anniversary of the Blue Roof Coffee van. The piaggio ape van was parked outside and the volunteer baristas made free drinks for those attending the celebrations and passersby.
Inside the church the party continued with a free brunch and live music. The atmosphere was one of joy as, despite some initial challenges, the Blue Roof Coffee van has had a very successful first year.
The idea for the coffee van was born out of the need for community during the covid lockdowns. Father Edward Le Brun Powell joined the church as parish priest in 2021 and one of the first things he noticed was how many people in the community were feeling isolated and lonely. He knew the church could help and with a coffee van they could travel to meet people where they are. The church applied for funds from the Diocesan Mission Fund for the project and were successful in their application.
The coffee van launched on the 30th of October 2022. However soon after the launch the project ran into a few problems, with the water in the coffee machine freezing due to cold weather and the van breaking down. By the Spring, the team overcame these hurdles, and the van was in full working condition.
Every week the van goes to several different community locations such as Hearsall Community Primary School and All Souls’ Catholic Church. The volunteer baristas make and sell coffees at very competitive prices and connect to the community. Through the coffee van three new people have started attending St Mary Magdalen Church.
The main aim of the project is community connection, not raising money through selling coffee. However, the success of the project had meant that over the last year they have met the running costs and the parish have had to contribute very little. Therefore, the coffee van is a very sustainable form of mission.
Father Edward says:
"The Blue Roof Coffee Project is a way for the church to meet people where they are; it gives us the opportunity to begin conversations, build relationships and to proclaim the gospel to those we meet. Christians are called to be the Body of Christ in the world, and this is our hope and pray for St Mary Magdalen Church in our community."