New community cafe opens in Norwich children’s centre

Families are being given the chance to enjoy a menu of healthy snacks and meals at a new community cafe opened at a popular Norwich children's centre.

Staff at the Earlham Early Years centre, in Cadge Road, yesterday celebrated the official opening of the new Butterfly Cafe, which offers parents and youngsters up to five-years-old, the chance to drop-in for a healthy snack and also find out about other activities and advice on offer.

After first opening its doors last month, up to 50 people are now using the cafe. Food is also made on site by parent Kez Tidy, who has been trained to work as a cook, by nursery chef Colin Acland.

The Butterfly cafe menu included spaghetti bolognese, macaroni cheese, quiches and salads, as well as sausage rolls and muffins.

Many of the ingredients are grown in the children's own vegetable garden.

Felicity Thomas, head of Earlham Early Years Nursery School and Children's Centre, the new cafe was open between 11.30am and 2.30pm every Tuesday and Wednesday.

'It was just a space that was crying out to be a community cafe,' Mrs Thomas said. 'Having a reception office, we had a hatchway already there. All we had to do was make the office into a kitchen.

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'The reception area is a lovely big area with windows on all sides. I'm hoping if it's successful we will be able to extend the opening hours.'

Mum Joe Radley, who is a regular user of the cafe, and also runs the 'cuppa and craft' club for parents looking to try out new craft activities, said: 'It's friendly, good value for money and everyone feels really welcome. It's a good place to meet people and have a healthy meal with the children.'

The community cafe is part of an expansion to the centre after it outgrew its previous community room, which saw the centre rent two classrooms, offices and what used to be their reception area at the primary school as well as, a smaller meeting room.

'We have turned the reception area and office into a community cafe,' Mrs Thomas added. 'By opening it up to the community, so that it can be a drop-in facility that provides healthy snacks for children and parents, in a familiar atmosphere, where they can also access all the other services that are in the area.'

The opening came as deputy prime minister Nick Clegg unveiled the government's new 'pupil premium' to help provide funding for the education of youngsters from poorer backgrounds, which could be helped to pay for nursery education provision for youngsters at the centre.

Norwich South MP Simon Wright, who officially opened the new cafe, said: 'The Earlham Early Years Centre is a tremendous facility and they are doing some really fantastic work, which children and families in the area can benefit from.

'Nick Clegg has announced �7bn for the poorest children to be supported through nursery school up to university and SureStart centres such as the one here in Earlham are doing exactly the sort of thing that the government is keen on them to do.'