The Lounge community cafe in Alvechurch has issued a statement wishing another food business well in its application for a licence to operate in the village to counter comments being promulgated by social media users.
The Lounge trustees said they were doing this because of “the narrative that has been built over recent weeks and months seeming to pitch The Lounge against Alvechurch Breakfast Club by various social media contributors”.
They add: “Let us be clear and final. We have nothing against ABC and we wish them well, despite the additional commercial challenges their opening may bring to us.
“ABC – good luck for today and the future. We wish you well whatever the outcome of the hearing. We know there is a lot riding on it for you and from one small enterprise to another, we get it. Good luck.”
The Lounge trustees statement in full:
This is a statement on behalf of the The Lounge and Alvechurch Communities Together Trustees.
Please take a moment to read the below as there are a few things we’d like to say.
We have drafted this in advance unfortunately expecting negative social media commentary towards our charity, regardless of the outcome of the ABC hearing today.
We are expecting this, given the narrative that has been built over recent weeks and months seeming to pitch The Lounge against ABC by various social media contributors.
Let us be clear and final. We have nothing against ABC and we wish them well, despite the additional commercial challenges their opening may bring to us.
The Trustees have not lobbied against ABC in anyway shape or form. Nor have we asked our staff or management committee to.
ABC: good luck for today and the future. We wish you well whatever the outcome of the hearing. We know there is allot riding on it for you and from one small enterprise to another, we get it. Good luck.
The Lounge started nine years ago as a charity to support the young people in our community and help address some social behaviour challenges the community faced at that time.
The Lounge provides a safe place of refuge for our young people and all aspects of our community as a community cafe.
It has been many of our younger people’s first experience of employment and given a point of connection and purpose for those who volunteer.
Since opening we have routinely battled for survival, but with the goodwill and support of the community, charity bids, charity donations, APC support and our volunteers donating their time and labour we have kept going for nine years.
We have even been able to expand our offering to support the more isolated in our Community via Friendship Matter. The sustainability threat never goes away however. (We’ll come back to this).
The Trustees all live in our community are all volunteers with jobs, families and interests of their own. They are time poor, but they do this because they love Alvechurch and want to make a difference.
When we opened, we were the only cafe in the village. Since then we have been joined by Morso, Gin and Pickles and now ABC.
We have welcomed these businesses into the village and found a way to work alongside them, whilst trying to commercially keep going despite the extra competition.
It’s been tough but that’s life – we don’t have a monopoly on Alvechurch and nor should we. We’ve handled this in a community spirited way and in line with our values, always aware of trying to set a positive example to our young people we were created to serve.
With the ongoing help of the community of Alvechurch, we continue to support our charitable aims, including a new offering on how to support our young people with their mental health in these difficult times which we are currently launching.
For those new to the Village, the Lounge operation, creates some small income that is 100% redeployed in our charitable activities. And times are tough, very tough.
COVID has brought a number of challenges with reduced capacity in the cafe and therefore reduced revenue, increased operating costs, reduced availability of our volunteers (to keep them COVID safe), reduced fund raising events (Party In The Park), reduced social events (Mop, etc), reduced availability of charitable bids as they understandably pivot to support COVID based charities and we are also coping with an increase in rent (though the landlord is being supportive) and an increasingly competitive local environment.
We are doing are best to survive.
You’ll have noticed our Sunday opening pilot, our loyalty card, changes to the menu to try and improve our offering, the community feedback survey and coming up the scarecrow trail (thank you to the organisers).
We’ll keep trying but need your help.
We wish ABC well, we really do. We want a harmonious relationship and hope this note makes that clear.
Frankly we haven’t the time for anything other than harmony – it’s not in our DNA and detracts from us delivering against our charitable purpose.
We hope that this note also brings to the fore to the community the serious challenges we are facing. And to highlight that The Lounge will only continue into our 10th and centenary year with the support of our Village helping us to continue our work to serve the community, as an employer of local people and continue our charity work.
If you’d like to support us please get in touch. Volunteer time, ideas, custom or playing the lounge lottery where half of all proceeds go directly to helping make TheLounge sustainable.
Sent with love, best wishes and community spirit.
The Lounge Trustees (your neighbours).