Scottish Parliament recognition for church 'Honesty Cafe'
Published on 8 November 2022 3 minutes read
Volunteers who run an "Honesty Café" at a Glasgow church have been recognised in the Scottish Parliament.
Cross-party MSPs applauded Dennistoun New Parish Church for providing a lifeline service to people hit hard by the cost of living crisis who only pay as little or as much as they can afford.
Labour politician Paul Sweeney, described the service, available every Thursday between 11am-2pm, as an "excellent asset" to the community.
He said it was a "huge source of relief" to people who are struggling to make ends meet.
Mr Sweeney lodged a motion at Holyrood which celebrates the fact that the café is "inclusive and supportive of all those in the community through operating an honesty jar".
Signed by Labour, Conservative and SNP MSPs, it recognises that the church has created a "warm, safe place for anyone, with free wi-fi, food, company or a good blether over a cup of tea or coffee".
Based in the church's upper hall, the café re-opened last month after being closed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cost of living crisis
Reacting to the news, Rev Ian McInnes, minister of Dennistoun New Parish Church, said: "It was an extremely pleasant surprise to learn that our Honesty Café, known as Dennistoun New Den Café, has been recognised by the Scottish Parliament.
"It came about due to the question we asked ourselves ‘how can we, as a parish church, serve the parish in a practical down to earth way?'.
The café is run by a team of volunteers who provide the food and drinks served and payments go towards overall running costs.
Rolls with fillings such as flat sausage, eggs, bacon, cold ham or cheese and tomato, salad and soup are served.
A daily special which might be a sausage or chicken casserole, a pasta dish and sometimes a curry made by the minister himself is also on offer.
Mr McInnes said: "The idea for the café is that anyone and everyone is welcome to come along, enjoy a blether and simply pay what they can afford or nothing at all if they're struggling with money.
"We have free Wi-Fi which means that patrons can access the internet which can be helpful for job searches, catching up on the news, email and so on.
"The cost of living crisis is at the forefront of people's minds and we can provide a warm, safe, friendly atmosphere.
"A place to go and simply be without any expectations or any judgements made."
Looking after people
Mr Sweeney, a Glasgow list MSP, hopes to visit the café soon and present volunteers with a framed copy of the Scottish Parliament motion.
He said: "The reopening of the New Den Café at Dennistoun New Parish Church is incredibly welcome, particularly in the context of the ongoing cost of living crisis.
"By virtue of being honest, café users are able to pay what they like, or nothing at all if they are unable to do so and it has been a huge source of relief for local residents who are inevitably cash strapped.
"I pay tribute to the Church and the minister in Dennistoun for showing initiative and for the work to ensure local people are looked after during these difficult times."
Mr Sweeney said many people are struggling in all sorts of different ways.
"The cost of living crisis is the most talked about but isolation and loneliness has never been higher following the pandemic, making places like the New Den Café all the more important," he added.
"I would encourage anyone who is local to visit, say thank you to the excellent team who are working there and give whatever you can spare.
"It is an excellent asset to the community and one that I hope will remain in place for years to come."
Campaigning and practical support
The Church of Scotland is calling on the UK Government to take urgent action to bridge the cost of living gap because the support being offered falls far short of making up for recent changes to living costs and benefits faced by a couple with two children.
In a practical response to the cost of living crisis, churches across Scotland have launched "warm hubs" to help people struggling to pay their heating bills this winter.
Congregations taking part in the initiative are encouraging vulnerable individuals and families to visit their halls for a few hours during the day to keep warm instead of shivering in cold homes that they cannot afford to heat and light.