A Wantage café owner has launched a Warm Spaces Community Kitchen to help people in town.

Kate Farrington, who runs Down to Earth Café at The Old Stables in Stirling Close, is running the initiative as an expansion of a warm space project she began when she first opened the café last year.

The expansion sees the warm space element retained, but now with the provision of a free meal which has been made possible with the help of funding from Clarion Futures, the engagement arm of the Clarion Housing Association.

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Ms Farrington said: “The idea for this first started during lockdown when social isolation was highlighted as a serious problem, and I became aware of food going to waste from volunteers at the café and the local community fridge. I wanted to help eliminate isolation and food waste.

“I’d also seen the warm spaces provision being offered in places elsewhere.

"Energy prices have only been going up. People living on their own can therefore come here to enjoy company in the warmth, now with a free meal too.”

To make the initiative a success, the café works with other partners including Sustainable Wantage, which runs the community larder that delivers provisions to the café every Friday and the Oxford Food Hub, which redistributes surplus food from its warehouse in Botley.

Volunteers who help to run the kitchen offer a new dish with fresh ingredients and new flavour combinations each week, often with the intention of reflecting the season and time of year.

Those who come along can make a donation towards their meal if they wish, however this is not expected. 

The Warm Spaces Community Kitchen will run every Tuesday between 12pm and 2pm until end of March.

Ms Farrington hopes to keep it running into April on the provision further or surplus funding is available.

The kitchen took a break between Christmas and New Year this week, but will return on January 2.

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Ms Farrington said: “We’ve had a really strong response so far to our inclusive community space. This is not only for people experiencing difficulty during the cost of living crisis, it is for everyone. We hope it provides a social space to meet others and have a chat.

“I must thank everyone who makes this happen, including our wonderful volunteers who really run the show. We’re a growing community but a very warm and generous one at that.”

The café also has a ‘take one or leave one' coat rack available every Tuesday while the kitchen is running.

This initiative allows anyone to leave a coat they no longer have need for on the rack for someone else to take should they need one.