Our Mission and Values

The Umbrella Cafe CIC is a not for profit social enterprise, incorporated in September 2018. We are a welcoming social hub and kitchen aiming to reduce levels of social isolation, loneliness and food poverty in our community.

We have five aims :

  1. Promoting an inclusive environment where anyone can feel welcome & safe.
  2. Working in collaboration to achieve our aims.
  3. Providing services that promote inclusion for our beneficiaries and the wider community.
  4. Creating working relationships with other community organisations in Whitstable and the wider area; with the ability to refer on where necessary.
  5. Providing services that actively provide skills, support & empower members of our community that are facing increased levels of food insecurity, loneliness and isolation.


Our guiding values are to ensure we stay :

  1. User led by communicating with service users and engaging in monthly steering groups with beneficiaries and stakeholders.
  2. Inclusive
  3. Engaged with volunteers.
  4. A collaborative model.
  5. Focused on responding to community needs and will adapt where necessary.

Our Project Work

At the heart of the Cafe is our belief that everyone should have access to good food; we want our community to be able to eat delicious & nutritious meals together.

To enable this we run a Pay It Forward scheme. Some customers can pay a little more and that extra enables others to eat for free. A simple, circular economy that ensures all are welcome in our space for food, drinks & company.

You don't need to buy anything from us – sometimes people just leave us donations or they add something onto their bill. Each £1 someone donates is turned into a tally line – we then take the value of anything ordered via Pay It Forward off the blackboard.

Just ask one of the team to put your chosen amount on the tally, and we’ll do the rest…

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The Social Pantry
With Whitstable Umbrella Centre we have created a social pantry shop, open Wednesdays and Thursdays. The Pantry is stocked with a mixture of good quality surplus via Fareshare Kent, Neighbourly, Sainsburys, Iceland and Co-op Foodshare and fresh stock we purchase from Vita Store, Staines Farmshop and Jim’s Butchers via their Pay It Forwards. There is no fixed criteria to sign up but the project is targeted towards those experiencing difficulty accessing good food regularly and those who are socially isolated in our community. All produce is shared between the members and the emphasis is on making self-empowered choices, that include fresh products such as meat and dairy, vegetables and fruit, tinned goods, cereals, snacks and treats. Each shop is £4; this cost will cover a variety of items up to the value of £20.Please ask us or email us to enquire about joining as a member.


Our supported placements
We are looking forward to welcoming back our supported volunteers and students. We work in partnership with the Supported Learning Department at Canterbury College, St Nicolas’ School Sixth Form and Choices Support to offer confidence and skills based training to students with sensory conditions in our spaces.

canterbury college supported learning

How you can help

Volunteering Opportunities

We couldn’t do what we do without our fantastic team of volunteers. We have opportunities in our Cafe, social kitchen and project spaces for engaging and rewarding volunteer opportunities. Email us to find out more how you can help with batch cooking meals, engaging with members in our social pantry, supporting our students in the kitchen, leading cooking support in the pantry.


You can help us in all sorts of ways. Sharing and tagging our posts encourages others to know we exist and what we do. Just by buying cake or coffee you are helping us to support our community. If you are able to donate to our Pay It Forward this circular economy helps others to purchase
meals from us at a lower or no cost. General donations can be made via our website and can be made as a one off or regular monthly set up. These are tracked and put back into our project work. We now have a monthly newsletter and you can sign up on our home page.


Business Sponsorship 

We have had fantastic support from businesses and couldn’t deliver our projects without their collaborative approach. If you are a local business interested in helping us to eliminate food insecurity and would like to offer
corporate sponsorship or make a business donation please contact us on

Donate food or Pay it Forward for the Social Pantry

We can accept tins, dried or ambient foods in our green Social Pantry bin, which is located in the foyer of the Centre. You can also 'pay it forward' at Jim's Butchers and Staines Farmshop anytime and we can use these donations to buy back from these shops to increase the fresh food in the Pantry shop. During school holidays Whitstable Produce Store also run a pay it forward on our behalf which we use to purchase additional healthy snacks.