Friendship Cafe provides youth & community based activities, focusing mainly but not exclusively on young people, children and families in the inner-city & surrounding areas of Gloucester City, although our users come from many different backgrounds and from all over the City and County, which means that we are used by hundreds of different people each week. We also run the St. James City Farm & Riding School in Tredworth.
Friendship Cafe: Some History…
A group of young lads put some money together so that they could buy some weights and train in a garage in Hethersett Road. This avoided us going to the overpriced and intimidating mainstream gyms, and so our Gym was formed.
As the number of participants grew, the garage got cramped and a new venue had to be found, especially as we were joined by like-minded guys who had been working out in a cellar in Falkner St. Circumstances meant that we moved from empty shops to empty church halls amongst many places.
Our previous venues include the Butchers (Jaffer’s) in Upton St, the site of the Masjid-e-Omar (Mosque) in Conduit St, changing rooms in Colwell Community Centre (Derby Rd), the Anglo-Asian Centre in Charles St (opposite GL1), and the old Widden School in Sinope St.
We moved to the City Works building on Alfred Street, initially in side rooms but then taking over a commercial gym that was on site. Over the years we developed the venue so there was water, heating, electricity, windows, extensions and at it’s peak, we have a regular 200 members each week.
We formally became a registered charity. The original gym was known as ‘Gymkhana’, then ‘GymnAsian’ and in 2000 to ‘GymNation’. In 2013 we retained this name only for the gym, but the official name for the whole charity changed to ‘The Friendship Cafe’.
Start of the Friendship Café at its new location on Barton Street (former Working Men’s Club, now ‘GARAS’ the Asylum Seekers support service).
2001 - 2008
Changes made at the new location (revamp), and development of community and sport activities and outings.
St James City Farm, run by Gloucester City Council since 1998, was scheduled for closure. Friendship Café takes over responsibility for the site.
Following a competitive tender process, the Friendship Café moves to our current site at Chequersbridge Centre (the disused HQ of Gloucestershire County Council Youth & Community Service, and prior to that, the ‘TA’ Centre for the RGBW regiment.
The redundant building/community centre has now been transformed into a thriving centre which has activities and services 7 days a week, through our own organisation and with a number of different community projects.