Following the successful launch of the Pay It Forward initiative at our Portsmouth-based Café in the Park earlier this year we are delighted to report that the scheme has been a truly heart-warming success!
We launched Pay It Forward at an event back in July thanks to the generous support of Southern Co-op. We welcomed representatives from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, local councillors and council staff as well as many members of the local community to the event, all of whom kick-started the donations. Since the launch, the generous Portsmouth community have donated 689 vouchers.
Staff and volunteers at the Café have been blown away by the generosity of the Café’s patrons; Café Manager Annette said “to be able to give out vouchers to disadvantaged people, have a chat with them, to be able to give a dad a voucher who otherwise would not be able to afford an ice-cream for his child on a hot day is just awe-inspiring”. A staff member said “The homeless are so grateful – it’s great to be able to help them”. Our chef told me proudly that “we’ve even had kids donating”. All the customers think it’s a great idea and many have wondered why more Cafes don’t do the same thing!
As the vouchers are being distributed to the less fortunate word is getting out and patrons have been delighted to witness first-hand the benefits this single act of kindness can bring. Craig said “It really helps with breaking the ice with the homeless – it’s great to get to know them.”
Craig continued: “patrons are asked to write comments to accompany the voucher, a recent patron wrote “hoping this little bit of kindness can bring warmth to your heart, a smile to your face and brighten your day…Enjoy.”
Initiated by staff at the Café, some of whom have experienced life on the streets, Pay It Forward is a way for the public to show they care by buying a voucher for someone less fortunate. In exchange for a £2 donation, those who are disadvantaged can get a hot drink or seasonal snack at the Café. We then ensure that the vouchers are given to someone facing multiple disadvantages such as homelessness, poverty and/or substance misuse and will offer signposting to support if appropriate.
The Café in Victoria Park in Portsmouth is yet again going to be the focus of The Society of St. James’ activities when it plays host to the first Portsmouth based SSJ Sleep Out in November. Supporters of the charity will collect sponsorship money to sleep out under the stars, so why not register now and join us in Victoria Park this November.