[Sharston, Manchester] The Mess Cafe

The café is on a nearby industrial estate – we had to go to an ironmongery place there to get a new hinge for the sideboard. It’s run by a religious charity which works with prisoners to help rehabilitate them. On release, the charity continues to work with the ex-offenders by offering support, helping with accommodation and offering employment in the café (or it’s adjacent “community grocery”).

We went for breakfast which was decent enough. Bacon, sausage, fried egg, mushrooms, tomato, beans and a slice of toast. Not the best you’ll come across, but you’ll come away feeling that you’ve done a little bit for the community. Not least in that you can “pay forward” (a term I’d not come across before) a coffee for a customer at the community grocery, so that when someone orders one, they’ll be told payment is already taken care of.

FWIW, the grocery receives its stock as donations from local supermarkets - generally items close to their “use by” date – and church congregations. Surplus food from the cafe also finds its way next door. Customers register with the shop, paying an annual membership fee of £5 and can then shop up to three times a week – filling a basket for £4. The charity also runs a number of courses, including a “cooking on a budget” one. You’re aware of the religious element from the posters around the café but it’s not in your face.