The Zainab Project is a volunteer run café in the centre of Norwich, giving refugees and asylum seekers transferable skills needed to find future employment. Here, co-founder Sarah Wynn explains how the project seeks to empower people
We are the Zainab Project, consisting of myself, Rasha and Elfatih (both previous asylum seekers from Sudan) and Christina. We have a long history between us of working in the refugee and education sector and have spotted a need for voluntary and work experience opportunities for asylum seekers in the Norwich area. Asylum seekers are not permitted to work under current legislation and can spend years waiting for their asylum claims to be assessed.
Zainab’s is a volunteer run café in the centre of Norwich, based next door to The Feed’s Social Supermarket on Hall Road. Aiming at giving refugees and asylum seekers the transferable skills needed to find future employment, the café offers a flexible volunteer programme both in the kitchen and front-of house, with plans to offer training in book-keeping and management roles. There is also an advice service for those who need support accessing information and signposting to other services.
The café offers a taste of Sudan, including falafel, baklava, and Sudanese soups, strong Arabic coffee, and spiced red tea. We also offer a takeaway and catering service.
We have received Lottery Funding as part of the Awards For All programme and will continue to apply for funding as well as use profits from the café to grow and continue supporting the refugee community in Norwich.
Our dream is to eventually open our own restaurant and community centre where people from all communities can gather, share and eat together.
Zainab’s café is open Thursdays, from 11am-6pm, and Fridays and Saturdays, from 10am-4pm while The Feed operates the café from Monday to Wednesday. The takeaway menu includes falafel, falafel wrap, lentil shop and baclava – perfect for lunch, dinner, parties, or events. Message to pre-order. Orders can be picked up from the café on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Large orders can be delivered by arrangement. The project has also launched ‘Pay it Forward’ board to the café: buy a coffee and some baklava and ‘pay one forward’ for another moment of the community who may not be able to afford a drink.
Featured image of Sarah Wynn, Elfatih and Sumayat, one of the first volunteers for The Zainab Project