Photo: Laura Swain

Milk and Honey: Hope in abundance

Milk and Honey is a non-profit café, nestled within St. Peter’s House — the chaplaincy for the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan, and the RNCM. I chatted to the director, Hannah Skinner, to learn more about this serene space situated just off Oxford Road that has been completely transformed and is now unrecognisable from the derelict, disused area it was just two years ago.

Opening in February 2018, the café is aesthetically pleasing thanks to its array of hanging greenery and carefully placed fairy lights that accompany the rustic, ‘upcycled’ furniture. The salvaged pieces and mismatched chairs manage to create an Instagrammable interior that successfully avoids the appearance of a cluttered jumble sale. Even on a rainy Manchester afternoon, light streams into the café through the generous multitude of windows creating the illusion of being situated inside a treehouse. Within the comfortable setting, the window seats provide the perfect spot for powering through a mountain of work or simply passing an hour or so watching the world go by accompanied by a comforting coffee.

The simple menu offers a range of dishes packed full of goodness and made from fresh, seasonal produce. The breakfast menu is perfect for fuelling up before a day at uni, offering options such as homemade beans and frittata at affordable prices. If you are not a morning person, Milk and Honey also has a range of lunches available with both gluten-free and vegan diets catered for. Treat yourself to a bowl of their warming organic soup produced from the surplus of vegetables grown by local cooperative ‘Manchester Veg People’, and wave goodbye to your usual daily meal deal.

Run by a team of enthusiastic volunteers, the development encourages people to get involved and become part of the community. As a student at university it is easy to become stuck within a student bubble, only ever engaging with other students; the cafes volunteer programme, however, seeks to promote the benefits of working with a range of different people. As Hannah explained, the scheme was created to be open and diverse, allowing anyone who wishes to volunteer to get involved.

Improving wellbeing is at the heart of Milk and Honey’s vision. As a non-profit café, the organisation is not fixated on commercial growth but reinvests profits into new projects. As part of the 2018-19, ‘You Are Enough’ programme, the space currently hosts breakfast yoga, a weekly writing group, and a monthly cook school to name just a few of the events on offer.

From speaking to Hannah, what has particularly stuck with me is the message behind Milk and Honey. Despite the struggles and problems that exist within the world, Milk and Honey seeks to remind us that there is hope: “we look around our fine city of Manchester and we see abundant good. Good people and good ideas, little glimpses of the ways things could be.”

Tags: Cafe, coffee, food, university, Volunteering

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