Guest post by Brian Donnelly, Chorleywood4Refugees

For the last three Refugee Weeks, the Chorleywood4Refugees Voluntary Group has operated a Pop-up Cafe at their local railway station, which is on the Metropolitan Line between Aldgate and Amersham.

Like most small stations, this one does not have a cafe of its own, but even if it does, that does not necessary rule out the possibility of setting one up in conjunction with the established commercial operation.

The Cafe opened from 06:30 to 08:30 each morning offering a choice of tea, coffee, fruit juices, water, a mixture of home-made and purchased pastries and cereal bars.

In 2016, this was an experimental programme which operated for just one day and with participation from the pupils of just one local Primary School.

Having collected an amazing £500 in just one day in 2016, the programme was extended to 5 days and three participating schools in 2017 and proceeded to generate over £2,500.

By 2018, all local schools were falling over each other to be part of this community fundraising activity, including all of the Head Teachers, and over £3.000 was donated by generous commuters.

A few parents were always on duty to supervise everything, particularly the serving of hot drinks. The children, all in Year 6 (under 11s) and all wearing their school uniforms, concentrated on collecting donations by rattling their large blue plastic buckets!

The charity that was chosen to receive these monies each year was Safe Passage, which was easy to explain and easy for both the children and parents to relate to.

There are plans to extend this programme to at least one more local station during Refugee Week in June 2019, but this could be done at many other stations around the UK.

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Thinking of doing a pop-up cafe of your own for Refugee Week? Here’s some useful additional info:

⦁ With regard to participating schools, a request was made to approach parents to give their approval for their child/children to participate and for their photographs to be taken

⦁ In this context, we tried to avoid giving extra work to busy teachers

⦁ With regard to the station, no formal approval was either sought or given, but each morning we advised the on-duty staff that we were setting up our tables.

⦁ The basic equipment required consists of two folding tables, two 3-litre urns for hot water, a cool box for milk and fruit juices, a few nice baskets to present the pastries and some paper napkins (or kitchen towel).

⦁ The drivers from the local taxi Company enjoyed free drinks in exchange for regularly and willingly topping up our supply of hot water.

⦁ Some commuters claimed that they did not have any cash on them, but most of them came back with cash the following day.

⦁ On a few occasions, the sheer enthusiasm of the children bubbled over and one narrow staircase was made just that little bit narrower !

⦁ On the last day with rumours that the local newspaper would be there to take photographs, just about everyone wanted to be there !

⦁ And the children were never late for school!