Crowdfunding campaign to save La Tour Cycle Café in Ipswich

Anna Mathews outside La Tour Cycle Cafe, Ipswich

Anna Mathews outside La Tour Cycle Cafe, Ipswich

The owner of a community café that acts as a “haven” to vulnerable people in Ipswich is launching a crowdfunding campaign to keep it afloat after coming into rent arrears.

Anna Matthews is aiming to raise £5,000 to run La Tour Cycle Café in Tower Street for the next six months while she works out a long-term plan.

“What I have learnt about myself is I’m robust,” Mrs Matthews said. “I’m really proud of the community we have created. I love them all, they have become really good friends and I know together we can go forward and still create something truly wonderful for Ipswich.”

Mrs Matthews opened the cycle café in August last year as a commercial business but “within days” it developed into a community hub, supporting charities, homeless people, refugees and the town’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) network.

The café sits in a Grade II listed building owned by St Mary-le-Tower parish church.

Due to planning constraints Mrs Matthews was not able to build a kitchen so has operated as a “pop-up café”, which has not brought in enough money to fully pay the bills.

“I’m at the point where I have used all my savings and I don’t pay myself so I haven’t got any more personal finance behind me,” Mrs Matthews said. In August La Tour Cycle Café converted to a Community Interest Company, which means it no longer runs for profit and is eligible to apply for grants.

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Tomorrow Mrs Matthews is hosting a public meeting at the cafe at 6pm for customers and supporters to discuss the future of the hub and how they can be involved.

Canon Charles Jenkin, vicar at St Mary-le-Tower, said the church had accepted less than half the rent since January this year to help the café.

“Discussions have been held in recent weeks about how the café can become a viable business, as well as being a wonderful house of hospitality for those who enjoy going there,” he added. “

At the most recent meeting with the café trustees, a positive way forward was discussed and a further meeting has been arranged for later this week.

“We recognise the very remarkable hospitality in Tower House, particularly for vulnerable people and remain very grateful indeed for everyone’s dedication and hard work at the community cafe.”