In a small village, just outside Exeter, there is a vicar who has made it her mission to bring her community together. Reverend Wiz Slater decided to provide a place where people could come together and enjoy a cup of coffee by setting up a pop-up café in a refurbished horse box.
Since moving to the village of Pinhoe in 2018, the vicar and her husband had been interested in setting up a cafe that would be free for members of the community to enjoy.
“We live on the corner of the local school, which my kids attend as well, and I noticed that when parents are dropping and picking up their kids they would stand on the corner chatting. I realised they had nowhere to go.
“We also noticed a lot of people were struggling financially in the area and I wanted to provide somewhere for people to get a coffee without worrying about cost.” The Reverend said.
At the beginning of the year Reverend Slater was ready to make her plan a reality, but then lockdown hit.
“When lockdown started it became clear that having a place indoors wouldn’t work, so it was my husband actually who suggested the horse box.
“We got the idea after going to the Devon County Show where we saw people using their horse boxes to provide coffee and teas to the attendees, ” she said.
The reverend decided to set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise the necessary funds to purchase the horse box and to transform it into a cafe.
They immediately received support from their local community and donations started to trickle in, but then something amazing happened.
“After I set up the campaign, a friend saw it and decided that she wanted to help and bought the box outright, which was incredible!” The vicar said.
The couple were able to set up their cafe at the bottom of their drive opposite the local school.They called it The Horsebox.
The cafe is not for profit and asks people to pay what they can afford.
“Offering good generous hospitality is what church should be about. So I wanted to continue that.
“I love going for coffee. It’s such a lovely experience and I hated the idea that people were denied it,” said the reverend.
Any money the cafe does receive from its guests goes straight back into its upkeep. The couple have their eye on creating a permanent outdoor space where people can sit and catch up. They also want a coffee machine.
“I really want a cappuccino machine” revealed the Reverend. “It’s difficult to decide which one should take precedence.”
To encourage more people to donate to the campaign, the Reverend and her family decided to take on a challenge of rowing the length of the rivers Exe, Otter, Clyst and Dart. Although, the vicar says she has been doing most of the heavy lifting in that department.
“Two of the four rivers are complete. There are four of us in this family and I am the one doing most of the rowing!”
Currently they are open every Friday 8.45 am to 11am for the school run, but the vicar hopes to extend the hours once lockdown eases.
“We’ve had a great response. Word got out on the community facebook pages. Word of mouth spread and we’ve had such strong support. We keep seeing more and more people show up each week.” The vicar said.
“I want to keep it open forever, well for at least as long as I live in Devon!”
We asked the Reverend what her top GoFundMe crowdfunding tips were:
Choose a trusted platform
“Choose a platform that people trust. GoFundMe is a credible name that people were happy to donate to.”
Spread the word
“The GoFundMe has been brilliantly easy to set up. I don’t know how we would have done it without it. It was so easy to spread the word on Facebook because of the share buttons on the site. We also flagged it to the church magazine.”
Set yourself a challenge
“We wanted to do something to encourage people to donate, that’s where the rowing the rivers idea came from.”