A Radcliffe community café has called for volunteers to help their not-for-profit venue amid the cost-of-living crisis. 

In the heart of the town, the Outreach café and its volunteers have been working to meet the needs of customers through their not-for-profit services.  

The Outreach charity supports people with mental health, learning difficulties or disabilities to live as independently as possible in the community.

Through its café, they have been able to offer voluntary experiences to services users or another place to go for a chat.   

Bury Times: Outreach café tablets Outreach café tablets (Image: Newsquest)

The Blackburn Street site offers period poverty services, free wi-fi, access to electronic tablets, headphones, books, magazines and home-cooked meals.  

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Norman Shaw, the volunteer programme manager at Outreach, said no staff from the charity can be too precious as everyone, including the director of operations, chips in to keep the place running.  

Bury Times: Outreach Cafe Outreach Cafe (Image: Newsquest)

He said: “I've been doing volunteer management for around 20 years in all different sorts of environments, and I've never known it to be so quiet. 

“We are well used by the community, for example, several people have swapped their smartphones for basic call and text mobiles because of rising costs.  

Bury Times: Inside the Outreach café Inside the Outreach café (Image: Newsquest)

“Now we have our tablets, headphones and free wi-fi, people can come in and use them as often as they need to.”  

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The café also offers a "pay-it-forward" service where a customer can pay extra, write the amount and a message on a post-it note and put it on the wall for someone to get themselves a free coffee or meal.  

Bury Times: Pay-it-forward service at Outreach Pay-it-forward service at Outreach (Image: Newsquest)

Louise Carter, director of operations at Outreach, has taken on the role of chef, earning her local fame for her cheese and onions pies.  

She said: “We all started for zero and now were baristas well versed in the art of coffee.  

Bury Times: Food in the Outreach café Food in the Outreach café (Image: Newsquest)

“I cooked as a hobby and don’t believe in making anything from a jar so everything I do here is homemade and usually vegetarian or vegan.  

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“It's food that people can afford. It's healthy and wholesome and it's bringing people in. 

Bury Times: Outside the Outreach café Outside the Outreach café (Image: Newsquest)

“This isn't a commercial venture, we're not here to compete with anyone, we just want to be a safe and warm space for people to come to.”

The café relies on volunteers to cover the 10am to 3pm shifts on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.   

Volunteers at the café receive a free meal and free drinks throughout the day. 

Bury Times: Norman Shaw and Nicola McNally from Outreach Norman Shaw and Nicola McNally from Outreach (Image: Newsquest)

Norman said: “It is a warm friendly space and instead of being at home, you can come here and use our heating and electricity and have a free meal and hot drink. 

“We would love to expand our opening hours and days, but we don’t have the numbers for it now.  

Bury Times: Inside the Outreach cafe Inside the Outreach cafe (Image: Newsquest)

“We would have had students too but because a lot of work is online now, they're not around as much. 

“A lot of the older people who would have volunteered are looking after their grandchildren because parents are taking up extra shifts to keep up with the cost of living.  

Bury Times: Outreach cafe Outreach cafe (Image: Newsquest)

“It has created the perfect storm, but it isn't just us, it’s the same thing across the whole sector.” 

Norman’s photography hobby has also helped to fund the café with profits going towards the venture.  

Bury Times: Inside the Outreach Cafe Inside the Outreach Cafe (Image: Newsquest)

He has also displayed his unique artwork around the venue for customers to enjoy.  

Bury Times: Outside Outreach Outside Outreach (Image: Newsquest)


Bury Times: Norman's photography inside Outreach Cafe Norman's photography inside Outreach Cafe (Image: Newsquest)

The site is wheelchair friendly and also has a washroom with a harness and equipment for those who may need it.  

Bury Times: Outreach private room, available to local community groupsOutreach private room, available to local community groups (Image: Newsquest)

A room is also available next door to community groups in the area as a venue for events or gatherings.  

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact volunteer@outreach.co.uk or call in and discuss things over a coffee.

If you have a story tweet @BuryTimes or @Heywoodharriet_ or email Harriet.Heywood@newsquest.co.uk.