A ‘BREXIT Cafe’ in Stratford is aiming to build bridges over a cuppa.
The brainchild of Stratford resident Sophie Clausen, and developed with fellow resident Manuela Perteghella, it aims to bring people from both sides of the debate together to talk and hopefully understand each other’s point of view.
Both women, as their names suggest, originate from other countries in the European Union, but have made their careers and homes in Stratford where they are also bringing up their families.
Both too have been deeply affected personally by Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
MP Nadhim Zahawi had accepted an invitation to the launch of the cafe at The Townhouse today (Friday). Then in the New Year Sophie and Manuela plan for the Brexit Cafe to ‘pop up’ on a regular basis in Stratford where everyone will be welcome to drop in for a coffee and a chat.
Sophie said: “Brexit has been very hurtful and frightening for me personally, so the Brexit Cafe is a way to reach out and talk to people who have different views to me.
“I want to try and understand why people voted Leave by talking to them face to face in a friendly way, and not by reading the news, which fills me with fear and perplexity.
“From all my years of living in this country, I know that British people are caring and kind, and this is what I want to hold on to. I don’t want to be swayed by anxiety and uncertainty.’
Manuela added: “‘Both leavers and remainers still have two very important things in common – their love for this beautiful country, and their wish to secure the best future for the United Kingdom.”
The cafe is backed by Stratford4Europe – a cross-party grassroots organisation campaigning for Britain to play a leading role within the EU.
Stratford4Europe chair Jonathan Baker said: “When we heard about Sophie and Manuela’s exciting idea we were really keen to get involved.
“Many people from other parts of the European Union were suddenly made to feel anxious and unwelcome here as a result of the Brexit referendum. This is a really positive initiative to help bring Stratford together by unleashing the healing power of a simple cup of tea.”