Hemel Hempstead students give community café a makeover

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Open Door is run entirely by volunteers and from public donations

Students in Hemel Hempstead recently got stuck into a renovation project at a community café and meeting place in Berkhamsted.

First up on the list of work experience for the Astley Cooper School Pre-Apprenticeship students was a makeover at Open Door in Berkhamsted.

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Eight teenagers have been helping restore the garden for elderly visitors, clearing and levelling paths, cutting down overgrown shrubs and trees and preparing the ground for new planting next spring.

Hemel Hempstead students help give community café a makeoverHemel Hempstead students help give community café a makeover
Hemel Hempstead students help give community café a makeover

They cutback a mass of ivy off a giant tree making more space and letting light into the seating area that is vital for guests coming in for tea during the Covid restrictions.

After finishing the outside, they moved inside to give the café a new look.

Closed to the public for just one day the team had to prepare the walls, paint them twice and clean up.

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Programme Co-ordinator Richard O’Brien said: "They all worked so hard and so fast the job was finished ahead of time.

"With a clean and pristine finish, they enhanced their reputations and represented their school very well, I couldn’t have been prouder."

Open Door is run entirely by volunteers and from public donations, it provides a vital service to the elderly and vulnerable members of the community with a pay-what-you-can snack menu through the day in the café.

There are also group activities held in the meeting spaces upstairs and it is all designed to combat loneliness and to improve the visitors physical and mental health.

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Before starting their three-week stint at Open Door, the students thoroughly researched the centre.

They visited the website so they could explain to their parents and teachers what they were going to do and who it was for.

Open Door’s volunteer co-ordinator Mary-Jane Martin, said: “We’re so lucky that the students chose Open Door for their work experience.

"They’ve made such a difference, both in the garden and inside the building – no job was too big or too small!

"We were so impressed with their enthusiasm and hard work. It’s been such a pleasure having them at Open Door."