Whitstable’s Pay It Forward scheme needs improvement

Two mental health cafe’s joined forces in February to tackle food poverty in Whitstable, but one cafe failed to see an increase in working class people using the system.

Pay It Forward was officially launched by the Umbrella Café in 2015, and the Revival café started the scheme when they formed a partnership this year.

The scheme is there for customers to donate towards supporting the more vulnerable people in the town, who are unable to buy themselves a meal.

Whitstable cafe logo's.
Above: Revival and Umbrella cafe logo.

The Umbrella Café hasn’t seen much of a difference in people using the system since they formed the partnership, and the Revival Café has seen more of a successful outcome.

The cafe’s both decided to create and distribute an awareness postcard, these are available in sure start centres, the Whitstable doctors surgery and the library.

Jo Verney, the Umbrella Café manager said that after releasing this postcard, Pay it Forward hasn’t managed to reach as many people as they had initially hoped for, Verney said: “I think it’s difficult to reach service users who want to use Pay It Forward.

“The people who use it in our café at least, are mainly rough sleepers which is great and obviously we really want them to use it.

“But the point of the awareness postcard was to reach that middle gap and to welcome people who are looking for a treat out and would benefit from that with their mental health.”

Listen to Jo Verney expanding on who the cafe hopes will eventually use the system: 


The Revival Café have had a more successful turnout, the manager, Lynne Forester said: “We have had one parent families who have come in for a treat, to have special time with their children. We had one particular lady who came in with her daughter because she didn’t usually get to spend one to one time with her.”

Listen to Lynne Forester explaining how the Pay It Forward scheme is helping customers: 


Both café’s plan to meet up again next month to make a plan of action for bringing more people to the system.