PARISHIONERS from St Mark’s Church in Shiremoor had a coffee with the Archbishop of York on Wednesday.
Dr John Sentamu’s visit to the borough was part of a tour of the north east where he called at a number of community and education facilities across the Newcastle diocese.
And one of those calls was to Coffee Plus in Shiremoor, a church sponsored community hub serving the Northumberland Park estate.
Dr Sentamu met with members of the community to find out how they benefit from Coffee Plus.
He said: “There’s a tremendous amount of friendship they are all giving to one anther and to the people that come in here. I just think it is wonderful.
“They worked hard to get this and it is incredible that people are giving their time and effort up for it.
“I was talking to someone and she said that she moved here four years ago and she used to feel very lonely, and she came here one day and felt that they were friendly and lovely and she met a lot of people.
“She said that if this place had not existed she would be cooped in doors.”
Coffee Plus is an innovative idea set up to help cater for the growing population in the area, giving them a place to visit without having to actually go to the church.
Paul Scott, Vicar of St Mark’s Church, said: “Coffee Plus has been open almost a year at the end of the month.
“I have seen the parish population double while I have been a Vicar here, and we wanted to come up with something that allowed us to engage with those people.
“The coffee shop was thought up as a possibility and we contacted Sainsbury’s, who said they weren’t going to make a coffee shop on the site, so it was an ideal opportunity.
“We called it Coffee Plus because you can just come in and have a coffee if that is what you want, but you can also engage with the rest of the community if you want to do that.
“It has been a really positive initiative and it’s been great to have the Archbishop of York come here and see this good news story here, and it’s a boost for the people here that he was scheduled to visit us.”
Damaris Wade, a member of the parish said: “It’s a very exciting day.
“Having the Archbishop of York coming to visit us is like having a big celebrity here.
“We have done a study course which was partly composed by his wife and we enjoyed it very much.
“It’s very exciting to have him here at Coffee Plus, in this small corner of the diocese, and he obviously has the common touch the way he has come in and spoken to everyone.
“He asked us if we were from St Mark’s and how often we came here for a coffee.”
The archbishop’s two-day tour of the diocese also saw him visit the Northumberland Church of England Academy in Ashington.