SOS goes out from community business as fundraisers at cafe become stranded in Europe
Staff and friends from a Gloucester café and community business who set out for Tanzania by bicycle are stranded on the continent and need your help to get to safety.
Before you go wondering what on earth anyone is doing mid-pandemic cycling across Europe hoping to make it to a country known for its vast wilderness, don’t panic.
As is the way with modern fundraising, the miles in what is an otherwise virtual journey are all being clocked from the relative comfort of an exercise bike at the Kingsholm café, but the message is still serious – this is fundraising to keep the business going through the pandemic and save jobs.
Roots Coffee and Community is more than a café, staging community events, classes, linking with the local primary school for afterschool sessions, keep fit session, and more. It has helped breath a sense of community and belonging into Kingsholm.
None of those income streams are now available and the business, only the café is open, which transformed itself into a food kitchen through lockdown a part of the incredible Feed the 5,000 project (that is the kind of thing Roots does). It now needs £4,500 to escape some serious decisions.
Professor Mark Pietroni, of Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundations Trust, was one of thefirst to rush to its rescue – jumping on the exercise bike to raise funds: “Roots is a local organisation supporting the community in Kingsholm and Gloucester.
“They were fantastic during the first Covid surge organising meals and support for vulnerable people. Like many voluntary sector organisations they are struggling for funds at the moment and I am delighted to support their fundraising efforts.”
While staff and friends are taking it in turns to pedal the distance more fundraisers are needed.
Anyone can take part – either by donating, sponsoring, jumping on board the exercise bicycle or riding their own bicycle and pouring any money into the JustGiving page. Each mile takes the counter on the map closer to the African destination – one of the country’s it sources its coffee from.
Ian Meredith, one of the founding fathers of the community business, said: “If you want to ride please try and raise some cash, so for example I'm riding, paying and touting friends and family to sponsor me or the whole thing. 1p a mile is £45
“Business-wise for Roots it's hard, but the support and encouragement from the Kingsholm community has been heart-warming, from coming back for a coffee, to comments on social media and in the street, it's both lovely and sad to see how much Roots has been missed.
“Our hope and prayer at the start of it all was to keep jobs, and so far we've been able to do that.
“The very heart of Roots is relationship and connection, just running a coffee shop to survive is not inspiring us, but being there through this to create a hub for connection, and a place to run events and activities again is, and part of that is keeping us as a community healthy physically and mentally, hence in part the cycle challenge.
“We've worked hard to put as robust a plan as possible in place to get us through financially, with some generous support from individuals, and the Diocese of Gloucester Life Fund.
“And now we're back trading so that is helping, but it's never been about profit, it's always been about a sustainable community project so we're not flush with huge reserves. We know we can survive for now, even running at a loss, but the bigger picture long-term is the goal.”