CharityFood + Drink

Canterbury not-for-profit café urges support for local this Mother’s Day

Lily’s Social Kitchen in Canterbury helps people with learning disabilities to find paid, meaningful employment, and says finding the ‘hidden gems’ by shopping local is beneficial to the community and the economy

A mother-daughter team heading a popular not for profit café is taking part in a ‘mums love local’ campaign encouraging people to think local when they spoil their mum this Mother’s Day, supporting local businesses at the same time.

Kiera Rodda set up community interest company, Lily’s Social Kitchen, with mum Zoe in 2017 with a goal to help people with learning disabilities and autism, those who’ve experienced homelessness, and ex-offenders, to find paid, meaningful employment.

“Starting Lily’s was a real family affair,” said Kiera. “My grandparents helped and my Nan still makes the cakes for our cafés. It is nice working with family. Canterbury is an eclectic city and we now have Lily’s Social Kitchen on Palace Street and The Hub Café in St George’s Place, which is also a registered warm room, plus another café in Ashford.

“We have an internship programme and apprentices, and 4 of our individuals have gained external employment after working for us. Every time someone gets employed or gets a placement is just the best feeling. One of our interns was recently employed by McDonalds and is moving into his own home this summer because he now has the confidence and skills to be in employment. There’s not a lot of support for employers to employ individuals with challenges. At Lily’s, we also help the employers too.

“For the individuals we help, it’s not just about the financial aspect, it’s also the social and emotional aspect. Being busy and working is so good for your mental health, and is empowering. There’s a sense of pride in earning your own money and being able to spend money you’ve earned.

“All of our cafes are donation only or pay as you feel and people have been incredibly generous. We have so many regulars who use our cafes, and it just shows how supported we are.

“Everything we sell is fresh and homemade, from sandwiches to soups, cakes. Every task we have is a job for someone, whether that’s making the sandwich fillings or delivering products to our cafés. And the ethos is definitely service with a smile. People might visit our Hub or Café for some food, or even just for the company.

“When people support local, it means more money into the local economy. Spend with a local business like Lily’s this Mother’s Day and we can then spend with other local businesses, even down to using local drink suppliers, and reducing delivery mileage. It means we can employ more people, and provide training, which is a skill the individual has for life.”

Lily’s Social Kitchen is one of the 120 plus businesses who are part of the Canterbury Gift Card.

Kiera adds: “The great thing about the Canterbury Gift Card is that you can spend it as you want, for a day out and shopping. It’s also a way that people can find the hidden gems in Canterbury. Life would be boring without the small businesses like Lily’s.

“It can be hard running a business and being a mum, you often feel guilty but actually it’s good for both parent and child. It’s a great feeling to know that you can do it all, you can be a parent, run a business and have a social life.

“For Mother’s Day, I would love a day to relax. An easy day, going for lunch with shopping, always with coffee. And if I was given a Canterbury Gift Card, I’d spend it in one of the little vintage shops, or maybe treat myself to some new makeup, or lunch in a nice restaurant. A Canterbury Gift Card is permission to treat myself, and I can feel good knowing it’s also supporting lots of local businesses too.”

The Canterbury Gift Card was introduced by Canterbury BID in November 2020, with almost £100,000 in gift card sales to date.

Lisa Carlson, CEO of Canterbury BID, said: “Canterbury is a wonderful city with a diverse offering and it’s also a caring city. We’re proud to showcase our fantastic range of local businesses, like Lily’s Social Kitchen, which are accessible through the Canterbury Gift Card. This Mother’s Day, the gift card offers huge choice for mum and is also a tangible investment in our community.”

Canterbury’s gift card is part of the award winning Town & City Gift Card initiative from Miconex active across the UK. Local gift cards giants Town & City Gift Cards are leading the national ‘mums love local’ campaign alongside Canterbury BID.

Colin Munro is the managing director of Miconex: “The idea behind our ‘mums love local’ Mother’s Day campaign is  that when we’re spoiling our mum by shopping local this Mother’s Day, we’re also supporting mums running businesses who are making a huge difference to the community, like Keira and Zoe with Lily’s Kitchen.”

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