The latest guest blog on Keep Colchester Cool arrives via Pete Hope of GO4 Market Cafe. As I type this, it is chucking it down with rain, but there is a “sunnier” alternative this weekend with a Taste Of Morocco and Bodega La Iglesia taking place in the Cafe, located in Holy Trinity Church on Trinity Street.
I’ve invited Pete to tell us more about what GO4 Market Cafe is all about.
Ben Howard

If you have ever set a market stall up on a rainy winters day with a biting northerly wind freezing your body parts then you will have an understanding that to do “market” in a building has to be a winner, even if it isn’t heated!

The notion behind the GO4 Market Cafe being that a group of traders forming a ‘community’ could help support the aims of the company but at the same time incubate and develop business ideas.

Having an idea is one thing – seeing it through to fruition is something else. The challenges of being in a Grade 1 listed building lacking appropriate lighting and heating, and the sensitivities that surround its usage are a constant issue in trying to deliver a commercially viable business, but we hope we have created a welcoming and interesting market place that adds more to the shopping experience and enables the public to continue to enjoy the building after it was empty and lifeless for so many years.

For some its too radical a concept, for others not radical enough.

GO4’s primary aim is to create employment training and support for people who are out of work. It has consistently done that since its birth in 2010.

We have worked with ex-offenders, long term unemployed, people with mental health issues, eating disorders all of whom are welcomed to come and build their confidence, self esteem and improve their CV and grow in social skills. Mostly these individuals haven’t been able to connect in such a way to other organisations for a variety of reasons.

Many have moved on into full time employment in other sectors, some have gone on to start their own sole trader businesses, others have been given employment with GO4 either in the cafe or on one of the gardening contracts we undertook over the last two years.

We have been the beneficiaries of some ‘seed’ grant money via CBC Enterprise Allowance, which totals around £12k over the last three years but other than that GO4 has not received any large amounts of grants or investment.

There are 16 independent traders within the Market set up, providing a variety of goods with a vintage theme, Moroccan and Nepalese merchandise, Latin groceries, and much more. All their commercial activity benefits the aims of GO4. Some are share holders in GO4 and one is on the board of GO4 so the ethos of the company is carried and supported by the traders.

Over the last two years within the GO4 portfolio nearly 30 people have received financial renumeration and over 50 have had volunteer/work experience across the GO4 portfolio.

We are constantly looking at other business opportunities that would enable us to expand that portfolio of job creation. A recent addition to the GO4 Market Cafe is the Bodega La Iglesia wine bar, which once established will provide further opportunities for paid employment and experience with wines and beverages.

We are negotiating the Cafe on The Rec, based in Old Heath and also looking at an opportunity in Jaywick… we like a challenge!

Without the agreement of Colchester Borough Council, the cafe in Holy Trinity Church would not have happened, also had support from Hythe Forward, DNA Networks, Colne Housing, and too many people to mention individually.

So next time you are enjoying a latte in Holy Trinity, and maybe some Tapa, the thought that you are assisting a small independent Social Enterprise whose existence is solely to create business for the purpose of employing people above and beyond the value of profit, and seeing those people restored and given some hope, will add to the experience. This in the knowledge that we don’t receive constant hand outs (although a financial boost would be quite welcome!) from the public purse, or lottery, may just encourage you to continue supporting us – and if you haven’t visited the GO4 Market Cafe yet, then maybe now is the time.

Pete Hope
GO4 Market Cafe

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