One of the things I enjoy most at TLC is when a new person has walked in, and there’s a conversation, and quickly it is as if we’ve known each other for years, although the reality is that it has only been for a few minutes.

The experience is only rarely beaten, when, through that conversation, there is clarity, or a beauty in the words that are spoken, that highlight a new insight into the world around us.

Yesterday I had one of those moments:

A new volunteer, a beautiful Ethiopian woman, softly spoken but confident with her English, started. We introduced ourselves and quickly fell into a comfortable chat about different languages, and the use of language; sparked by a posted we have on our wall where I had invited people from different countries to write ‘Welcome’ in their language, resulting in a lovely word collage. She had spotted Amharic (Ethiopian), Tigrin (Eritrean), Italian, Spanish, Arabic, and I pointed out that we also had Albanian and Urdu squeezed in there too. A little moment enjoyed by us both; for her seeing something for the first time, for me a reminder of how far we had come (we created it in our pop-up phase over a year ago, when we were keen to create a sense of TLC via artwork that we could easily put up and take down again each week).

After coffee, we resumed our day’s work, catching up again at the end of the morning:

One of the jobs that we do each day after the last customer has left, is count up the money that has been put in our donation pots. I was explaining to our new volunteer how we do it, and how we have to separate out the coins to bag them up for the bank. She remarked ( I wonder if she was practising her creative English?) that we are ‘segregating’ the money.

I realised it was the first time, as far as I am aware, that we have used ‘segregation’ describing any activity within the cafe. I replied; ‘yes, segregation of coins is the only segregation we do around here’, and we both looked at each other and smiled.


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