University plant sale blossoms into support for Kettering community café

Date 23.09.2019

A café that supports some of the most vulnerable in society is £760 better off thanks to the University of Northampton.

Each summer, the University’s grounds team sells off floral displays used during graduation week to generate cash for good causes.

The £760 raised this year has been donated to Johnny’s Happy Place, a community café in Kettering.

It was set up by family and friends of Johnny Mackay, who took his own life in 2014, at the age of 29.

The aim was for the café to become a space dedicated to supporting people like Johnny.

Since opening, the café, which is based in Rockingham Road’s Keystone Youth Centre, has gone from strength to strength. Not only does it offer food and drink for a knockdown £1 per meal, mental health counsellors are also on hand for customers to speak to, absolutely free of charge. Free craft workshops also take place at the café, which opens Saturdays and Sundays, from 10am to 2pm.

John Howes, External Services Manager for 1st Degree Facilities, the company which maintains the University estate, explained why Johnny’s Happy Place was chosen as this year’s beneficiary.

He said: “Johnny’s Happy Place provides an essential service for so many people in Kettering.

“It relies entirely on the work of volunteers and donations to keep going, and so we are delighted to be able to help in some small way.”

Johnny’s mum, Denise Mackay, said: “We would like to thank the University of Northampton for making such a valuable donation, which covers the equivalent of more than two months’ rent for Johnny’s Happy Place.”

She added: “The café is open to absolutely everybody, and provides a welcoming, happy and safe space for the community to enjoy.

“We’re here to help everybody, which is exactly what Johnny would do. When he died, so many people told us about how he’d helped them when they were at their lowest ebb. He supported them and gave them direction. Johnny’s Happy Place is here to do just that.”

Johnny’s Happy Place is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit, Community Interest Company.

Find out more by visiting the website.

Denise Mackay is pictured with John Howes.