Located in the historic heart of Exeter, St. Sidwell’s Community Centre is an independent charity that is working to strengthen the local community and to bring people together to share their skills. At the heart of “St Sid’s” Community Centre is Sid’s Café, which serves up affordable, nutritious and delicious food throughout the week. Alongside the café, the centre also offers affordable room hire, volunteer training and work placement opportunities, cookery classes and workshops, a community vegetable garden, internet access and a bakery.
For this week’s #FinditinExeter we chatted with Iona to discover everything there is to know about the centre and to find out about the newly launched bakery.
St Sidwell’s is a community centre with several main areas of work. Their core focus is providing work experience opportunities for volunteers across the entire centre, from the cafe, to gardening, to reception admin, to care taking. These placements are open to everyone and anyone, whether the individual wants to volunteer for a few weeks or a few years.
Though volunteering is their focus, St Sid’s café is what the centre is best known for. The café is open to all, Monday to Friday 9am-3pm, and serves up a tasty, healthy and affordable menu. The food offering includes hearty breakfasts, an array of sandwich and jacket potato fillings and daily specials, with vegetarian and vegan options. The kitchen sources its produce from the centre’s garden and through Exeter Food Action, an organisation that rescues surplus food from businesses and redistributes it around the city. The cafe also runs children’s cooking programmes in the summer and makes their own pickles and preserves which are available to buy.
The centre is also in the process of setting up a bakery, which is where Iona steps in. Iona already bakes bread, predominately sourdough and other long fermentation breads, to sell on the cafes counter every Wednesday and Friday and supplies local businesses such as Ebdons Refreshments on Sidwell Street. But a dedicated bakery will make way for daily bread, and a stall at Exeter’s Farmers Market on Fore Street starting in July. Iona will also run 12-week training placements in the bakery’s cookery school for individuals to learn the skill.
Last but by no means least, the centre rents out spaces for local groups, including arts groups, healing groups, English classes, literacy and numeracy classes, a sit and sign group, children’s singing group and a repair café. These spaces are available to anyone, and these groups are available for anyone to attend – head to the St Sidwell’s Community Centre website to keep up to date with events.
So, next time you are after a wallet-friendly lunch made from fresh produce, or an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city in the centre’s garden, or looking for a way to dedicate your time and earn experience through volunteering, head to the St Sidwell’s Community Centre in Exeter.