God seeks to transform society: The Terminus Café

Monday, 16 November, 2009

Terminus Café - frontThis story illustrates the principles of God seeks to transform society in the Guide.

A Methodist church on an estate in Sheffield in 2000 went on to the streets with a questionnaire asking their neighbours what mattered to them and what the church could do to help.

The majority of people didn't recognise that the church could play a role and were surprised at the question,

recalls Joy Adams, a Methodist minister on the Low Edges estate.

The church discovered that the most pressing local needs were litter picking, a drop-in centre for the elderly and youth activities. It also realised that any response would need to come from all the local churches and so formed an ecumenical prayer group.

At the same time, local shopkeepers were keen to lease their premises to the churches for community ventures. Recognising an opportunity, the churches set up The Terminus Café.

From the start we worked in partnership with the different agencies on the estate,

says Joy.

We said right at the start that we are four churches working together to open a safe place and we are motivated by God's love.

When you are open with people, they're open with you, we've found.

'I feel safe when the café is open'

The café is self-financing, includes a charity shop, and opens three days a week to around 60 visitors a day. Its Christian remit is made clear by a monthly service, 'Worship at the Terminus' at 4.30 on a Thursday afternoon. Bible study groups happen in series of four or five at varying times and venues to suit the differing needs of local residents.

When the idea of the service was first mooted, it was greeted with 'shock', Joy says. Low Edges is notorious for anti-social behaviour and drugs.

Café staff open and close the day with prayer which is visible through the window. In 2004, as a result of witnessing this, visitors began to ask for prayer. A prayer board is now situated in a discreet part of the café and one-to-one prayer is available under strict guidelines.

Volunteers now staff the café from across the church and community, and The Terminus Initiative has been created to cover the café, an asylum seekers befriending service and a Credit Union.

Other café initiatives include a Tuesday night youth café where young people can hang out and play computer games.

Terminus - women's clubWhen assessors for the Duke of York Community Awards visited The Terminus, they asked its neighbours for their opinion. The Sikh shopkeeper, next door but one, replied,

These are the best neighbours I've ever had and I feel safe when the café is open.

Now the elderly of Low Edges have a place to go, the young people have an event just for them, and while litter is still evident, anti-social behaviour has reduced in the area.

Where it does happen, the local police approach the Terminus for help.

This is a learning point from: