I’m sat in the beautiful Café Viva and only one word comes to mind ‘tranquil’.
I’ve been here plenty of times before, popping in over the Christmas break to get a quick coffee, and check the Southwark Foodbank Christmas Hamper collection tin. But I’ve never actually stopped to sit down and take in the atmosphere. Now, waiting to speak to the café owner Lily Gorlin, I’m finally stopping long enough to see why this café was able to raise £607.81 for Southwark Foodbank, with nothing more than a small counter pot.“We have a great community here, a good set of regulars” answers the wonderful Lily Gorlin. She’s 30 years old, and has been living in London for the last 10 years. Part of the south east city scenery, Lily studied textiles at Goldsmiths University in New Cross. Over her time she’s worked in an array of bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants, and in doing so, her creativity undoubtedly married her experience to form the vision that is now Café Viva!
When she looked around Peckham 4 years ago, Lily saw that there was a lack in relaxing places to eat and drink. So, upon seeing that there was a closed down café at 44 Choumert Road, she set out to build something for the community – And community is the defining word. Since beginning, Lily has grown Café Viva from coffee – to coffee and cake – to coffee, cake and lunch and is now venturing into the dinner scene with a fantastic sausages and mash deal. But behind her menu sits a group of diverse, friendly regulars that has grown with the café. Even as we talk there’s an edgy young creative working on laptop beside me, a mother with pram ahead, and an elderly couple aside her. This place is a hub of good community, and a Polaroid of the greatest part of Peckham, and South East London.
The kindness of this community is only proven by the astounding amount raised by Café Viva customers toward Southwark foodbank Christmas Hampers in December 2015. Lily herself jumped at the opportunity to help out with the cause “There is a big division in the community” she says, “and it’s important to raise awareness of that”. Well, Café Viva certainly did that. All of the money they generously raised contributed to funds that helped Southwark Foodbank feed 110 families this Christmas.
And Café Viva was just one of many Peckham enterprises to support us. They were joined by The Montpelier Pub, Lerryn’s Café and Forza Win, just to name a few. With more fundraising partnerships with South East outlets to be excited about in 2016, it’s clear Café Viva have inspired a wave of support from the community for the needs of the community – and for that Southwark Foodbank is grateful.
Café Viva is open Tuesdays to Sundays on 44 Choumert Road, Peckham SE15 4SE. They have recently implemented a new dinner meal: sausages, mash and a drink for £10. Get down there.