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Nottingham Post
Nottingham Post
Caroline Barry

Netherfield cafe with affordable products transformed into vibrant space

A cafe in Netherfield has been transformed into a vibrant community space and shop. Connect Cafe took over the space on Victoria street in the former Waiting Room Cafe.

Owner Nina Offord-Hall took on the cafe in December after her son showed the space. She had dreamed of having her own cafe for years and decided to take a chance on Netherfield. It's not just a cafe but a meeting place, community and creative hub along with a shop that showcases the best local artists and authors.

"I found the cafe because of my son. He worked across the road and he showed me the place thinking it could be great. I had a business place for it but then when I got here I realised what the community wanted. They wanted sausages from the local butcher and a place to come together and be a community," she said.

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Connect Cafe Victoria Road, Netherfield. (Nottingham Post/Marie Wilson.)

There are lots of creative people who were coming here and living on the same street yet didn't know each other despite this being a small environment. People wanted to be able to meet up together, talk and become friends, especially after the isolation of Covid. It had been a difficult time for people both financially and emotionally."

Nina had been working in food banks and volunteering before taking on the cafe.

"I'm eternally grateful to my son for showing me the cafe and kickstarting me to do this. I signed a three-year lease just in case it didn't work and I needed to get out. Very quickly, my customers started to become lifelong friends which is amazing. I absolutely love every single one of them and they are so loyal," she explained.

Nina is especially proud of the work that the cafe has done in providing space for groups and workshops. Connect runs sewing, photography and many other courses aimed at getting people learning, creating and talking together. The women's space is one of the things she feels the proudest of.

"I am proud of having the women's space. We've had a few events where it is exclusively for women and they have opened up about the trauma and difficulties they face. It was really humbling to see that people have trust in us so they are able to get the guidance, communication and support," she said.

The cafe offers cakes, sandwiches and coffees at remarkably affordable prices along with locally made gifts, many of which cost under £5.

Connect Cafe Victoria Road, Netherfield. (Nottingham Post/Marie Wilson.)

Connect was a big part of the recent LGBT+ celebrations in Netherfield. The town held its first pride day in August and the team behind the event has big plans to make it an annual celebration. Event organiser Harlee Rosanna and Nina are holding an LGBT+ social meet-up at the cafe on the first Sunday of every month where people can go for a chat, free cake and coffee.

"I asked the people who came in here if they would consider having a public meeting to put on an event and if people would show up. But they did and we had a week-long event called Netherfest. It kept growing really organically as more people got involved and we managed to pull it off. It was a great community event," Nina said.

Harlee added: "There was no way to get information about what was available out here such as social events or counseling. I had never heard of things like Notts LGBT+ Network until I started researching. There is a disconnect between big cities and small communities. After realising there was a gap and that there was a load of LGBT+ people here who had nowhere to go, it was very obvious that something needed to happen."

The cafe plays a huge part in providing a safe space for Netherfield's LGBT+ people and raising the visibility of the community. After Pride, Harlee feels that the town has felt more welcoming and safer as the support for the event meant a lot.

"I'm married to a woman and truthfully, I don't feel I would have walked down the street here holding hands before. I do feel more accepted after doing the event and realising how supportive people are. It really helped us to feel more included in the community and now Netherfield feels like a more open society," she said.

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