Big ideas: The Old Station Yard Cafe in Walthamstow

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Walthamstow resident Enitan Akinde has been proudly serving hearty dishes to customers at the Old Station Yard Cafe in Walthamstow since January 2015.

She is busy turning the cafe into a sort of evening social club, with plans to have different occasions spread throughout the week. Over coffee and cake at the eatery in Wood Street, Enitan talks about setting up a ‘tea and tarot’ night, coffee-tasting sessions, and a possible curry night.

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There are also wider plans to turn Station Yard – which comprises the cafe and Lancasters Home and Garden centre – into a twilight fair, with stalls and traders.

Currently on Tuesday nights, life coach and neurolinguistic master practitioner Ainara Leunda runs ‘Mind and Body Freedom’, a workshop for women that explores bad habits, such as unhealthy eating, and how those habits can be reprogrammed. The workshops, which are currently free, have proved incredibly popular and Ainara is currently booked up until September.

Enitan’s role at the cafe is a far cry from her previous life in Pentonville Prison, where she taught English to inmates.

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“Teaching in jail was the most rewarding teaching I have ever done,” says Enitan, who has also lived in Rome for 16 years, teaching English to highly privileged adult and child students.

“I felt I needed to do something that I feel counts, not just because their parents think it’s a good idea or because they want to further their career. I felt as if I made a difference.”

One of Enitan’s Pentonville students had come from a violent family, and had planned on heading down the same path when it came to his own kids.

She explains: “Discussions progressed over a period of time, and I told him that beating kids was not the way to go about it. I’ll never forget him. He said, ‘you’ve really changed my attitude towards children when I have them. I will not touch them.’ That for me was a real achievement. I’ve passed something on that is useful.”

Enitan continues to be useful by providing home cooked, healthy food at a price that’s accessible to most people. Most of the produce is from Walthamstow-based suppliers, such as Perky Blenders’ coffee, Second Nature Val’s organic jam, sweet treats from Suzie’s Cakes and meat solely from East London Sausage Company.

“I’m tired of being in situations where people find they can’t afford to do things and it’s about time the money barrier came down,” she says.

“We use free range chicken for our Sunday roasts. I cook everything from scratch because I believe everyone should be entitled to a decent meal that’s affordable. You shouldn’t have to spend lots of money to eat healthily.”

The Old Station Yard is at 186 Wood Street, Walthamstow, London E17 3NA. Open from 6am to 3pm

 

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