The North Yorkshire town of Selby in the UK is home to the aptly named Chatterbox Community Café. Rob Matthews, self-confessed chatterbox, launched the café in 2017 because he is passionate about helping people, and helping people to help others too.
Life hasn’t been an easy journey for Rob; he grew up in the care system, and knows only too well the road to rock-bottom, and how lonely and demoralising homelessness, addiction and mental health problems can be. It’s this experience, and the fact of overcoming these issues with the help of good-hearted people he met on the way, that gives him the determination and drive to build a community where no one needs to go hungry, and people look out for each other.
“Thankfully we don’t have a major homelessness issue here in Selby but, as in any community, there are so many vulnerable people. Haven’t we all found ourselves vulnerable at some point in our lives?”
People in the town are embracing the Suspended Coffee movement and have proved that it really is about so much more than the coffee.
A real community hub, everyone is welcome at the café, whether it’s for a drink, food (which is very good and offers gluten and dairy free options) or just to hear a kindly voice and share some human companionship. At the end of every working day, Chatterbox gives their leftover food away.
“I feel it’s so wrong that so many shops and retailers get rid of so much food away on a daily basis. This could be supporting the communities that they’re a part of, so that’s why we’re now doing this. We’re not getting financial support from any organisations, we’re a local business. Something’s wrong when bins are getting filled up, rather than people’s bellies,” says Rob.
Chatterbox also has an arrangement with the local Tesco supermarket to take their over-stock fresh bread and give it away for free, and have established a chain of contact with local agencies that can support vulnerable people.
“It’s important to give back,” Rob tells us. Clearly other people agree. “Because of the ethos of the café and the Suspended Coffee movement, some people have generously offered to give their time to work in the café without pay. That means so much to me and to the people we are here for.”
Rob has shared his passion with many other businesses in the town too, and Selby now boasts a Suspended fruit and veg shop, a cheese shop, a juice bar, a salad bar and a tea room. More and more businesses are getting on board to support and strengthen their community however they can.
“I have two young children and I want them to grow up in a kinder world than we have at the moment. What better way to teach them the importance of helping others than by working to build a community where people value and support each other?”
Selby’s Fabulous Five (and counting) :
Chatterbox Community Café ~ 18 Finkle Street, Selby, YO8 4DS, North Yorkshire, UK
Mollie Sharp’s Cheese Shop ~ 15 Finkle St, Selby, YO84DT, North Yorkshire, UK
Luv Fresh ~ 21 Market Cross, Selby, YO8 4JS, North Yorkshire, UK
Market Lane Tearooms ~ 9 Market Lane, Selby, YO8 4QA, North Yorkshire, UK
Fresh4You and Fresh4You Salad Bar ~ 5 Finkle street, Selby, YO8 4YB, North Yorkshire, UK