A YOUNG woman is running a café that has become a multi-generation community hub for Byfleet while also promoting the work of local artists.

The Art Café at St Mary’s Community Centre, run by 22-year-old Amber Richmond, has a low-cost meal service for older people that is supported the proceeds of the café.

Amber said many people were under the mistaken impression that the café is only for the elderly but, while it does have a group of pensioner regulars, it serves food and drinks for all ages and has toys that children can play with.

“We get a lot of mums coming in with their children,” she said.

“It’s really nice because it means that a lot of elderly people know the children now and they hang out together.”

The art on display is by artists from the area and is on sale.

“I put up local artists’ work with their email and phone number next to it so if someone wants to buy it they can message them directly,” said Amber.

There is also a book swap section that is popular with young and old.

The café was owned by Woking Borough Council and Amber managed it for them before taking it over about six months ago.

The kitchen is run by Kelly Shaylor and Juliet Warren, who make the food for customers and the service for the elderly, while two part-time baristas help Amber behind the counter.

“The community meals are British classics but the café has things like toasties, paninis, home-made quiche, home-made soup and some breakfast,” said Amber.

She has lived in Byfleet all her life and previously worked with her dad, who ran the charity Fresh Start. 

One of the charity’s projects was renovating St Mary’s Community Centre, which led Amber to use her experience of working in cafés to run her own in the building.

 “I love it and love meeting new people,” she said. “ A lot of our customers say that they feel really comfortable and that it makes them happy coming in because it’s a bit of a change for them.”