A COUPLE who run a town centre church have launched a not-for-profit cafe to benefit the community.

Phil and Lisa Crosby have opened Vineyards Cafe in Post House Wynd, in Darlington. As well as the cafe, they have an upstairs recording studio, to allow people to record music, and have space for workshops.

The couple, who have been renovating the space since October, started doing takeaways last week and opened its doors fully on Monday.

Mr Crosby, who leads Darlington's Vineyard Church with his wife, said: "We've been talking about wanting to do something like this for a long time, where we would create a lovely space and give something back to the community as well.

"I think it's been accelerated through the first lockdown. We were watching around the country as people's mental health deteriorated. We wanted to create somewhere where people didn't feel rushed out. We're having a listening room as well where people can come in and just be listened to.

"We wanted to see how we can be part of a countrywide effort to help people who are coming out of lockdown with poor mental health."

They are also running community based projects, including life skill courses, to help people deal with issues like debt, and a baby basket project, giving out Moses baskets filled with useful items for mothers and babies.

And they hope to run evening events with music, to provide a place where people can socialise without alcohol.

The cafe is also aimed at people who need a place to work. Mrs Crosby said: "Phil and I are both from business backgrounds and I worked for a long time with a team in the US so I was working from home so I know what it's like. A lot of people have been forced into that now.

"We have things like wireless charging points and USB ports and this is really a space where people can come and not feel like they are being rushed out but they can come and have some interaction with people."

She added: "Our ethos is that we want to give back to the community. It's really exciting."