Today’s blog is from Avril McIntyre, one of the founding team of the Corner Coffee House.
A brief trip down memory lane …
Who remembers the popular American sitcom back in the 80s … “where everyone knows your name”. You singing the theme tune now? Well, you probably are if you’re over 45! The Corner Coffee House is a very intriguing initiative. I’ve been involved since its inception and watched its identity and culture develop in a very intentional way.
It’s more than just the coffee.
The Corner is first and foremost about great coffee, delicious cakes and tasty savouries, but it’s so much more … as a customer and volunteer, there’s something about The Corner that always brightens my mood. I often meet people there either socially or for business and it has a consistently warm atmosphere. The customer service – from the team who are mainly volunteers – is excellent. They’re always ready to have a chat, but if I need space to be on my own or talk with the person I’ve taken – that’s OK too. Somehow, they just seem to know!
When I’m volunteering, I love the fact that customers make a point of asking me how I’m doing and it gives me the chance to genuinely connect with people that I would otherwise never get to know. At The Corner, you don’t need to have anything in common other than being a customer. In a world where it’s often hard to connect with people in our neighbourhoods – The Corner is a catalyst – and it works by connecting people together.
So why does it work?
Who knows? I think it helps that everyone who serves on the team really wants to be there. We have all made a choice to help out, and when we choose to put ourselves out for someone else, it does us good, too.
It’s also about having shared values – we train people to recognise their significance and the impact they can have on those around them. The team understand that a frown or a smile makes a big difference to our customer’s day and it’s intriguing that I nearly never hear that we have had grumpy customers!
The Corner Coffee House, a tiny Coffee House that sits at the end of a parade of shops, is an exciting way to develop a taste of community. I’d really miss it if it wasn’t there, and I know many dozens of local people who would too.
When not working hard at The Corner, Avril heads up Community Resources.