Community Champions – Matt’s Café

Matt’s Café, St Matthews Church, High Street, Swansea

Matt and a small team of dedicated volunteers have been active since the building opened in March 2017.  They work tirelessly to feed the homeless and vulnerable people living on the streets in Swansea City Centre.  This small project has grown enormously over the last 4 years and with different funding opportunities have been able to provide dignity showers as well as providing a hot breakfast and lunch for all, but especially those living on the streets.

The aim of the initial Matt’s Café project was to provide hospitality and hope to all, but in particular the homeless and vulnerable, usually shunned by society. After initially publicising the idea in the community, they were overwhelmed with offers of support and volunteers, which has made it the success the project is today.

 The original concept was to intercept perfectly edible food destined for the city bins by supermarkets and local businesses and turn it into delicious home-cooked food.  Guests are asked to consider a small donation for their food (but there is no pressure on them to do so).  The concept has grown considerably since it first opened it’s doors as Matt’s café. Led by project manager Thom Lynch, it has seen a small army of volunteers from all walks of life and beliefs, who dedicate their time to the preparation, cooking and serving delicious food.  They also provide all their guests with hospitality, hope and a helping hand.

Funding for the project comes in the form of donations from many who contribute on a monthly basis (Friends of Matthew’s House) and also the Hill Church who provided seed funding.

One of the many projects to come out of the funding by Friends of Matthew’s House is the “Donate with Dignity Token Scheme” (providing period dignity packs), showering and laundry facilities.  This scheme offers much needed dignity to those who choose to live their lives on the street.  They also act as a local food bank for the growing number of families requiring help.

Having visited this special place on several occasions and offered my services as a volunteer I am overwhelmed by the love and dedication from the volunteers for what they do.  No-one judges or passes comment on any individual.  Guests are not only treated to a hot meal or two but have the option of taking up other services to help them with their mental health and well-being.  I was amazed by the beautiful artwork displayed around the café drawn or painted by guests who have benefited from the services on offer.  This is a truly special place where visitors from all backgrounds come to either take-up the offer of a meal/shower/do their laundry or to volunteer.  Their ethos is one of a caring and nurturing facility and makes a remarkable difference to all who enter.

Throughout the pandemic, despite the difficult circumstances, the café has continued to provide facilities to those who most need it, which included a take-away service  The impact this enterprise has had on people’s lives whether they be volunteers to service users has been astounding.