A vibrant, orange establishment stands on Friargate Brow. Its window has a colourful display of Peruvian Fairtrade knitted finger-puppets besides a gigantic rubber plant. Have you ever been inside, or stopped outside, to find out more about The Beautiful Planet?
I chatted to Brett Lund, the volunteer coordinator, to discover the story behind this unique business. I asked how the idea for the centre came about. He told me that, in 2007, a group were squatting in the Canterbury Community Hall at the top of North Rd in Preston, in protest against its demolition to clear space for a commercial development. Two other community centres had recently been closed & so the protestors agreed that they would establish a self-funding community centre. They first established the centre/cafe at 69 Friargate in February 2011 before moving to their present location 2 years ago.
Their mission is to ‘Save the planet & build community’.
100% volunteer-run, it is organised as a co-operative & only sells vegetarian produce. As a matter of fact, apart from 1 variety of cake, organic cows’ milk & hot chocolate, everything in their range is suitable for vegans.
Food & drink on offer varies from (£1.00) cakes to organic filter coffee (£1.40). Herbal & fruit teas are 90p & groceries include organic soup, vegan cheese & lentil crisps.
During the day, the café is a lively place to drop in & is a source of information about environmental issues. There is a small but welcoming outdoor area at the rear where you may find regulars involved in impromptu music sessions or engaged in lively debates. Music has a sympathetic home at the Beautiful Planet; many local musicians, who offer music tuition, are contactable here. The centre hosts meetings for groups like Greenpeace, the Vegan Society, Friends of the Earth, Hunt Saboteurs & a local drumming circle.
Another element of the Café’s community ethos is the Friday Night Fundraiser sessions; held on the first & third Friday of every month. To date, these have raised money for Preston in Support of Refugees, The Kitchen, the local Vegan society & Hunt Sabs amongst others.
The centre has organised collections for refugees in Calais & supports the local community. One way it does this is by a ‘Pay it Forward’ scheme: customers donate money to provide hot drinks for the homeless. Typically, £2 buys three drinks; greatly appreciated by those in need.
Although it supports Green issues, the centre is not politically affiliated to any party or organisation & hosts volunteers from a range of political leanings.
The Beautiful Cafe, Friargare, Preston
Mon – Sat 10:30am – 5:30pm
Where to find them?