A woman who has opened a café offering free breakfasts to people in need has said a chance encounter with a hungry child spurred her passion for fighting local poverty.
Mum-of-three Rachel Miller, of Cinderhill, opened the doors of her café Mesopotamia on Valley Road, Basford (a name which means ‘two rivers’) four years after her charity shop.
The café offers free breakfasts to customers or allows them to pay whatever they can afford, all they have to do is order off ‘Jack’s menu.’
Jack Holmes was a friend of Rachel’s who was killed overseas in 2017 while volunteering to fight ISIS.
People from all walks of live are welcome to the Mesopotamia café including refugees, those struggling with universal credit and people on zero-hour contracts.
After volunteering in war zones and refugee camps in places such as France, Greece and Turkey, Rachel, 43, decided that helping those less fortunate was her calling in life.
Mesopotamia started out selling regular goods and second-hand items to customers, with the money raised being donated overseas.
Unfortunately, the ever-increasing poverty line was more local than she first thought.
“The catalyst for this was it was 4 o’clock one day and I gave a lollypop to a child that hadn’t eaten that day and I was quite horrified that in 2019 in Nottingham that happens.”
According to the Office of National Statistics’ data, people in Nottingham have less disposable income than any other UK city.
“I’m quite a good judge of character and I would never expect customers to show me proof that they are eligible for free food, I trust myself and those that choose to eat here.”
Rachel Miller, owner of Mesopotamia
These 2019 figures suggest that a café just like this, could drastically help those in need.
Reverend Ian Michell is one of Mesopotamia’s volunteers. He said, “Rachel is my neighbour and once I found out about the work she was doing I knew I had to help. The stories she’s told me in the past are unbelievable, and the fact we can do our part in Nottingham is great.”
With the café officially opening last week, yesterday was their first day serving breakfasts from 8am to 9.30am.
Rachel was surprised at the reaction from customers and how busy their breakfast morning was the first day it ran.
With the ‘pay as you can’ motto, some of the lunch menu including soups and fruit are free to those who need it, and the rest of the menu is served at a low cost.
Rachel said, “I’m quite a good judge of character and I would never expect customers to show me proof that they are eligible for free food, I trust myself and those that choose to eat here.”
The charity shop will continue to run next door to the café, and provides a range of clothing, toys and furniture for a cost, but to those who are in desperate need, it’s free.
Mesopotamia are excited to continue to provide to those who need it, from all walks of life.
“What we make we wanted to give back to what the people need and they need food. We thought it was a nice environment where people can come and eat something, get warm and have some companionship.”
Because of Rachel many people have benefitted from this charity, however this would not be possible without the help of the public.
All donations are welcome, whether it be clothes, furniture or a visit to the café’s charity box.
For more information or to donate visit www.mesopotamia.org.uk
553-557 Valley Road, Nottingham NG5 1JE