The Raglan Community Café celebrated its first birthday last Friday, July 4, with a celebration cake made on site by one of their community bakers and some sparking fruit punch and Kombucha.

Working together with St Cadoc’s Church and Raglan Community Council and with Viv Compton co-ordinating, the café has taken off, achieving a five star rating from environmental health and now the volunteer team in the kitchen bake most of its cakes and savouries on the premises.

Rev Carol Soble welcomed everyone to the birthday party saying it was 12 months ago to the very day that she and some other people stood there and opened the cafe thinking “would anyone come? If they came one week, would they come the next week?”

She added: “Over the weeks we have kept opening every week and developed some lovely cakes and a lunch offer and we have put together a wonderful group of people who have helped host the café and a team of people who have come on board to help put food on the plates and make cakes and savouries.

“We are hugely grateful to everybody who has helped” and asked everybody to raise a glass and toast to the continued success of the community café.

Sylvia Price thanked Carol and her gang for setting up the project saying that “there is a lot of banter and a lot of noise, but we have really enjoyed it, thank you all so very much”.

Carol told the Beacon that at a recent café, one of the parents came to the baby group and brought two older relatives “who were cared for beautifully in the café. I think this is the essence of what we want to achieve – a community space where all are welcome and become known, one that offers something for everyone!”

Over the summer, the café is open each Friday from 9.30am – 1pm. As well as the parent and baby group, the enclosed rear garden is great for families with garden games available for older children (and available every week)

In January 2023 the café became part of the Renew Wellbeing Network. A host team mingles with guests and ensures everyone has someone to talk to.

They have been given some grants to help their progress: Monmouthshire “ You Decide” funding contributed to a new ramp to open up the front garden with a view to developing a front facing seating area.

To modernise their facilities, Raglan Community Council gave the project a grant for new chairs and the café is currently seeking sponsorship for some outdoor furniture to expand the table capacity into the outdoor area at the front.

The community project had become a popular meeting place for parents with babies and young children so a fortnightly parent-led Baby and Toddler group is now hosted in the chapel alongside the café where they pop in to get their food. This is a free group led by parent Lauren Hughes and facilitated by Hazel Cave – Children and Family worker at Raglan Baptist Church.

Lauren explained it’s like a nursery extension to the café “Everyone is welcome on the first and third Friday at Raglan Baptist Church between 11am and noon”.

“We’ve had some lovely comments and what parents/guardians tend to like is there’s no pressure. You don’t need to commit yourself every time to coming so if your baby/child is having an off day or is asleep it doesn’t matter if you don’t show up!

“The sessions are free, the brilliant community cafe is on the same day so it’s great that we can support the baptist church if you feel you have the funds and able to do so but there’s no pressure, the main thing is you’re able to come and have a like-minded chat with people who are in the same position as you are and if you have a little one that’s running around they can let off some steam!

“Your little one can get used to be around other babies/children and we have had so many lovely toys donated for them to play with!” she added.