St Albans café serves heart of community

Staff at The Cross Street Cafe volunteer their time to give something back to the community. Picture

Staff at The Cross Street Cafe volunteer their time to give something back to the community. Picture: Laura Bill - Credit: Archant

You might be forgiven for not realising it is there, hidden behind the back of Argos and opposite Christopher Place car park, but the Cross Street Café on Upper Dagnall Street is a hidden lifeline for the local community.

Cakes at The Cross Street Cafe. Picture: Laura Bill

Cakes at The Cross Street Cafe. Picture: Laura Bill - Credit: Archant

The café is an outreach project running on a not-for-profit basis and is part of Dagnall Street Baptist Church.

Staffed mainly by volunteers, the large bright and airy space is a haven to many in our city who enjoy a good cuppa and a chat instead of a chai latté and a vegan brownie.

It also provides a volunteering experience which has been “life changing” for some people.

Overseen by manager Catriona Carver, the café celebrated its 30th birthday last year.

Catriona Carver, manager of The Cross Street Cafe. Picture: Laura Bill

Catriona Carver, manager of The Cross Street Cafe. Picture: Laura Bill - Credit: Archant


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St Albans resident Diane Saunders has been giving her time to work at the café for around eight hours a week. Diane said: “I enjoy meeting different people. We have some regulars who really love coming here. Some are elderly, some live on their own and some regular friendship groups meet here.”

Volunteer Danny Smith said: “To me, this place is St Albans’ best kept secret. When I felt alone and was really suffering with mental ill health, these people were a friendly face in a dark time.

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“Now I am feeling so much better and I volunteer here one session a week.

“It keeps me in a routine, enables me to chat to people and to give back to the place that has helped me so much.

“As part of the church, I recognise a lot of people here, but we welcome all people.”

Customer Lesley Humber said: “I have been a regular customer for over 30 years.

“You can go almost anywhere for a skinny latté in this city but after the pandemic, it was so lovely to come into a place where I could recognise people that I know.”

Manager Catriona said: “We are an inclusive, buzzing environment. We cater for people of all ages and are always keen to welcome new customers and volunteers.”

The café is open Wednesday to Saturday 10am-2pm.

It has a wide range of cakes, drinks and snacks as well as serving lunch and cash or cards can be used.

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