Blossoming enterprise

SALE’S 123 Café is expanding once again, adding a colourful outdoor space behind the hall.

As well as comfortable tables and bright flowers, it also features a custom-designed gate with 123 Café laser cut into the wood.

The cafe’s coordinators, Jules and Rich Lanham,have been slowly improving the social enterprise business, encouraging more initiatives in the mixed-use hall, building a small commercial kitchen, and attracting more volunteers.

“(The garden)’s always been a part of our initial plan, but because of the nature of a social enterprise, it takes a bit of time,” Ms Lanham said.

“We really want the community to realise this is a place they have access to and can use.”

Building the business is now the main focus, the Reverend Lanham said — the café now has two part-time employees helping with the volunteers.

“We’ve been focusing on developing the community aspect, and now we need to develop the social enterprise part so we can keep paying the bills and expand,” he said.

“We’d like to employ more people for more hours, so we need to do more trade.

“Those things go hand-in-hand.

“We’ve got fantastic buy-in from volunteers and supporters … they see the value-add for things they can achieve here, and they get a buzz out of making a contribution to something that’s great for the community.”

Many of the volunteers are from local high schools, and the Lanhams said they were impressed that many were helping out during the school holidays.

“We want people to see this as an opportunity for them to gain more skills, maybe create some vocational prospects for themselves,” the Rev Lanham said.

Ms Lanham added the volunteers were of all ages, and helping in community spaces was a good way for older people to build their confidence.

“We’ve had some people more my age, ladies with their kids all at school, and they want to get their confidence up to get a job,” she explained.

“One lady volunteered all of last year, and as a result I was able to be a referee and vouch for her.

“It’s hard, especially when you’re over 50, going back to the workforce.”

There are several other initiatives in the works for the 123 crew, with a community breakfast beginning to take off, and potentially a community potluck dinner in the works.

“We’re really keen to hopefully do a community meal maybe once a week that’s maybe more of a potluck, for anyone, not for any particular demographic — come and have a family meal sitting around the long tables,” Ms Lanham said.

“We’ve identified there are a lot of young families, in the RAAF, or older people whose kids have moved away, and they’re lonely.

“I thought wouldn’t it be nice to have a family meal where anyone can come?

“It’s not about not having money — it’s about connecting.”

The café, at 123 Cunninghame St, opens from Monday to Friday, 7.30am to 2pm.