Tess Harris at The Hornbeam Cafe

I started volunteering in the Hornbeam Cafe early in 2013. I just came in as a customer and immediately liked the environment and how I was treated by the staff and volunteers. I felt that it was a friendly and inclusive place, so when I heard there was a chance to volunteer I said – pick me!

I work as a senior volunteer in the cafe two days a week now, serving customers, preparing food and training new volunteers. It’s lovely to get to know the customers and help facilitate the use of the space – for example, I’ve enjoyed working with John Fell to display and promote his reclaimed wood carvings. I like knowing how to make a range of fancy coffees and serve people great local food.

The Hornbeam is a really good environment to be a volunteer. Even when I’m working on my own in the cafe I know that everyone in the rest of the building is friendly and eager to help. I can just stop anyone walking through and they will do what they can to be useful!

I really love that volunteering has allowed me to get to know such a wide range of people. I get to meet others – both volunteers and customers – who are interested in sustainable living, and I don’t think I would have met them if I wasn’t volunteering here.

I enjoy feeling a sense of ownership of the cafe, something that makes a big difference to someone as newly arrived in the country as me. In the future I’d like to explore some other volunteering roles at Hornbeam, and learn more about cooking. And, because I love gardening, I’d also love to visit the nursery at Hawkwood.