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Cardiff Character: Rob Morse

cafe owner

Former teacher hopes the Table Cafe can bring people together, combat isolation and help anyone feeling alone 

cafe owner

“We don’t just want to feed. But, as I said, if people just want to treat it as a cafe that’s their prerogative.”

“It’s about breaking down barriers,” Rob Morse says before his ear is caught by the creak of the door. His billowing voice emanates an exuberant warmth as he welcomes every person who steps foot into his cafe with, quite literally, open arms.

How he has maintained this inexhaustible energy since the Table cafe opened in Cathays in February is a mystery, but this former head of sixth form is relishing the ability to meet, enjoy and help people.

Rob Morse (“like the detective”), 57, was born in Cardiff and is dedicating his retired years to creating a safe space for the community. After 30 years working in Fitzalan High School, Rob now dedicates himself entirely to a sheer kaleidoscope of projects whose myriad colours permeate many different areas of the community. “Our vision statement,” he says, “is ‘where everybody has somebody.’ It’s simple, but it took us two years to get to it!”

“We’ll do anything, for any group. Come here, be appreciated”

Cafe owner

“We don’t just want to feed. But, as I said, if people just want to treat it as a cafe that’s their prerogative.”

Current projects Rob is undergoing include: feeding for free victims of slavery in collaboration with the Red Community; stocking Manumit, a coffee produced solely by victims of trafficking; hosting a curry night for any refugees in the area; operating a pay it forward scheme whereby those who cannot pay have their food and drinks covered; holding a repair cafe where people come to have their things fixed; having children from the local school share memories with the elderly community once a week to produce dramatic re-enactments of their life stories next year.

And breathe.

He proudly tells the anecdote of his first regulars who came in for a second week running and proudly declared themselves as such. After getting to know the husband of the pair, Rob discovered he had an eating disorder: “I said, If you phone me on the Wednesday I’ll prepare the food you can eat for the Thursday. He came in the following week and said ‘No other cafe would do that.’”

His motivation for taking on so much, Rob says, stems from a combination of humanitarian urge and the Christian faith. After a rugby match when he was 21 that saw him hospitalised with a ruptured kidney and where he had two cardiac arrests, Rob decided to make every day count.

A place where vulnerable people can feel at home

“I’ve always had a heart for vulnerable, broken-hearted and broken spirited people. What we’re about here is creating an environment where anyone can come without any judgement, feel at ease, feel happy,” he said.

It is clear that the business is not about turning over a profit: “Our bottom line is that we’re not about making money. We couldn’t care less. We don’t just want to feed. But, if people just want to treat it as a cafe, that’s their prerogative.”

For anyone who wishes to be the creaking door that, as if connected to Rob’s shoes, springs him so suddenly to his feet, then it is open 8-5 Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays on Pentyrch Street. 

 

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