The problem with writing this part of my blog (apart from how much money I'm having to spend on cappuccinos) is that I sometimes feel as if there isn't enough time to get round all the lovely cafés and coffee shops that we're lucky enough to have in Surrey.
I've got an ever-growing list of the places I want to visit on my hunt for perfect venues for freelancers but it's normally quite hard to choose which one I should go to next. I say 'normally' because, actually, this time, it wasn't difficult at all. As with All Things Nice, in Ewell, I love a place that gives back to their community and those that do will often vault over others to the top of my list.
So this time I want to highlight All Saints Coffee Shop in Leatherhead.
It's a big underestimation to simply call All Saints a coffee shop as it is much more than that: it's a social enterprise. Its strapline is 'Creating Change' and, along with the charity Leatherhead Youth Project (LYP), that's exactly what it is doing for socially and economically disadvantaged local young people.
Tucked away in the converted church on Kingston Road, All Saints runs as a coffee shop, six days a week, between 8am and 3pm, where it gives young people the chance to take up paid employment and accredited training via the Government's apprentice scheme. After 3pm, however, it becomes a drop-in centre for 11 to 17 year olds and a space for some to receive 1-to-1 counselling, through LYP.
Have a read of All Saints' full story here: it's hard
not to love what they're doing, isn't it?
The venue is a cool, airy space that feels immediately welcoming. You can slump into comfy leather sofas or sit up at tables; you can bring your laptop and use their free WiFi or rent one of their hugely affordable hot desks, complete with iMac. This only costs £4.00 an hour (or £20 per day/£60 a week which includes a free hot drink) - and if you book it monthly (£200) you also get free use of their meeting room.
As a freelance writer who generally only meets up with one client at a time I never really need to find a space bigger than a two-seater table but, with my other writing hat on, finding a bigger room might soon be something I need to think about. In an earlier blog post I referred to a 'big dream' that I've been thinking about - that of someday running a writing retreat - and I've been working on the small steps I could take to move me forward on that journey.
One of the ideas I had was to start running low-key writing sessions in the local area and to do that I'd need to find a venue that could seat a group of people. My house is too small and although there are plenty of village halls around which are usually cheap to hire, they'd be too big to create the intimate writing atmosphere that I'd be looking for.
All Saints has a viable solution: their meeting room seats up to 8 and costs just £10 per hour (amazing value!); discounted food and drink are also available when you rent it out.
I'm really impressed with the whole set up of this place: helping those who need it and providing valuable, not to mention hugely affordable, services for the rest of the community. (Did I mention that they can also provide catering for events? Not much they can't do, apparently!)
The drinks are slightly more expensive than many other coffee shops round here (£3 for a cappuccino) but I certainly can't begrudge them that and they do some great lunchtime meal deals (including one for children). The menu includes sandwiches, wraps and ciabattas, cakes, tray bakes, cookies, crisps and popcorn and lots of hot and cold drinks.
On top of all this the service was great too. The guys that were there when I was were friendly and attentive and instrumental to the relaxed atmosphere the coffee shop offers.
All Saints is definitely a work from home substitute that I'd urge you to visit and support. It's a great asset to the local area and the service it provides to our young people is invaluable.
Seven great freelancer venues down....many, many more to go! If you have a suggestion for where I should visit next please get in touch!