The Ship- a real community cafe.

The Ship is an amazing community Christian cafe based in the centre of Rainham Village. It really is the heart of the local community and its volunteers are dedicated to being there for anyone who needs that little bit of help.

It opened 25 years ago and for the last six years has been providing local people who are struggling with a hot meal and an ear to listen.

Run by Shirley Phillips and her team this is the most welcoming cafe I have ever been to. It is comfortably small, extremely welcoming and the smell of delicious hot food and assortment of cakes is second to none. The food is all home made by the volunteers and there is no price list. The meals are there for donations or anyone who maybe going through a challenging time.

Shirley told the Havering Daily: “There are lots of people struggling and we are here to help those that need that extra little bit of help.”

The cafe is run on donations from local shops and foodbanks including Tesco who provide a weekly drop off.

The Ship prides itself in looking after its local community. Shirley continued: “We listen, we try our best to help people. There are lots of lonely people out there who need someone to talk to and this is what we do. They can come here, have something to eat and just chat with us.”

The cafe remained open through out the lock down to help its community. It closed last year for just two months due to the safety of its staff but apart from that has remained open throughout the most challenging of times. It even won an award from the London in Bloom judges who happened to be visiting the cafe and were so impressed by what they saw that they awarded them their own prize.

Volunteer Marilyn makes all the cakes herself and if you visit the cafe you can see that she can actually rival Mr Paul Hollywood himself when it comes to cake making. Actually, Marilyn would win as not only are her cakes amazing but she is also a very happy and cheerful lady who makes you feel at home.

Jean helps provide the lunches and then there is Alf who sells his beautiful water colour paintings to raise money for the cafe. Alf is known for making the best cup of tea in the borough and at the age of 94 years young, is still quick on his feet.

Like many who go to the Ship, Alf went after losing his wife and found himself quite lonely so decided to volunteer at the cafe and now has become quite a tea making legend in Rainham.

The Ship not only provides hot meals for its local community but also donations of bags of food to those who need help and food vouchers. If you are a family in the local area struggling to feed your children please visit this cafe and its fantastic staff that will be able to help you.

This cafe and its volunteers are real community heroes. They will put a smile on your face and welcome you in with open arms and feed you with fantastic homemade food.

Alf, Jean, The Reverend Elise Peterson from Rainham Parish church, Shirley and Marilyn

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