In January 2017 Nightingales opened a coffee shop and play area for young families in Cernavoda. The reason for opening it was because we needed a place where our young people could work, learn what it means to have a job and also to provide young families in the town who need support. In the last two years we have seen the place grow in ways we didn’t imagine happening. And it has all be down to the hard work of the young girls who are employed to work there.
The story starts before 2017, in 2015 when the gym we were running out of the building closed down due to huge competition from other gyms in Cernavoda. For a year we tried to get the paperwork for the charity to run a business. We knew it was possible and were told it was possible but no-one knew actually how to do it. So finally we set up Nightingales Children’s Project Srl, the Romanian version of limited. The young men from the football mentoring scheme then set about renovating the gym into a coffee shop and play area. They did an amazing job and things began to take shape. The organisation IWA Bucharest then sponsored the coffee shop so we were able to buy the furniture needed, a coffee machine; (very important in a coffee shop!) and also a machine which our disabled adults will be able to use in the future if we can employ them. Dauntsey’s School and Stand International worked hard to make the outside area look inviting and a fun place to be.
After a huge team effort, by January 2017 we had all the paperwork, chairs, tables and coffee needed to start.
In January 2017 we had no employees but 2 of our long term volunteers Ben and Luiza Wells were able to work there as volunteers as administrators of the business and on 19th of January 2017 we opened the doors. We didn’t expect a huge amount of people to come, but in the first week, (when we were open just Friday and Saturday afternoon), we made almost 100 pounds!
Since then we have really seen the place evolve. It is now a regular meeting place for young families, a party venue for Children and a place where our young people who were in our projects come and hang out with their friends.
We have employed 10 young girls who have learned the benefits of working to earn money. They now have the skills that make it possible for them to have a bright future. They have worked in a workplace which has often asked hard questions of them but also supported them through out.
We have become a place where young people want to come to, a place where, every Friday night, over 30 children come to an arts and crafts activity. The place has grown more than we could have imagined over the last two years and we are all very excited about how this will develop further going forwards.