In the past few weeks I met some friends at the newly refurbished Dovetail Centre at the Methodist Church a few times.
The place is bright, spacious, modern, and welcoming. It’s accessible to all, and I particularly like the much improved lighting. (I felt a bit dazzled at the beginning as I was sensitive to light due to short-sightedness, but soon got used to it.)
I like the feel of sunshine and the warm atmosphere the place radiates on entering the building each time.
Dovetail Centre Café new opening time
From 4th of September 2017 (Monday), the opening hours of the Dovetail Centre Café (traditionally called The Coffee Room) will be:
Monday to Friday: 9am to 12 noon
Saturday: 10am to 12 noon
This is great news to parents in particular. The early opening would make it easy for parents to meet up after dropping off their children to nurseries and primary schools. Even though there are more options in recent years for coffee near the Fryern Arcade, Dovetail Centre Café has its many strengths: its low cost quality drinks, spacious and friendly meeting place, free books, magazines and toys, free wifi, and accessible facilities.
The modernised Dovetail Centre Café continues to be run by volunteers, and the profits made each year go to charities and local community projects, including a generous donation to the Chandler’s Ford Today website. Some of the volunteers have been there for years, for decades, so you’ll see familiar faces with a gentle smile each time.
I find this ‘human touch’ experience particularly heart warming and precious as machines seem to have replaced precious human interactions at supermarket and banks, and even our local GP surgery is closing, so undoubtedly some people (especially vulnerable people, young and old) may be feeling alienated or anxious.
Loneliness and social isolation in our community
Loneliness and social isolation are major social issues especially amongst older people, and there has been a campaign to end loneliness. I feel that a welcoming cafe like Dovetail Centre Café is playing an essential role in supporting people in the community, improving people’s wellbeing, and tackling loneliness.
New coffee machine
I was told that traditionally ‘church coffee’ is synonymous to very bad, weak coffee. 37 years ago when Jane Archer started The Coffee Room she broke that tradition by serving ‘proper’ filter coffee.
After the refurbishment, now the Dovetail Centre Café has a new ‘bean to cup’ coffee machine for Latte, Cappuccino, and Americano.
I had to try the new machine, so last week a group of us met there and tried out various new coffee. I had a Cappuccino (£1) and it was excellent. (Note: At Costa Coffee, a cup of Cappuccino is over £2.)
Now toasted teacakes and toast will also be available as well as the usual biscuits.
The new touch to open automatic door is a great feature, which improves access to the building. I often see visitors with a manual wheelchair or an electric scooter, and young mothers with pushchairs, therefore, having an automatic door certainly helps visitors feeling more inclusive.
There is also a dedicated family area with tub chairs and settee with low tables, toys and books. That area is well designed and will make family feeling very welcomed.
I also noticed that now there is a big wall-mounted 55 inch TV. As Dovetail Centre is a very popular centre used by the community, the television is certainly a ‘must have’ modern feature for presentations in meetings. Luckily due to the size of the building, the television didn’t seem intrusive at all.
Official re-opening: Friday 22 September at 11.15am
The new Dovetail Centre and Dovetail Centre Café will formally be opened on Friday 22 September at 11.15am. The Mayor of Eastleigh Councillor Maureen Sollitt will be present, as will County Councillor Judith Grajewski and our MP Mr Steve Brine.