'This is the craziest idea I've ever tried': Northampton café to launch 'pay what you feel day' to support mental health charity

The Matchbox cafe is allowing customers to order whatever they want from their menu and, in return, donate however much they want to their chosen charity.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 8:59 am

A café in Northampton town centre is hosting a 'pay what you feel' day to raise money for a local charity offering mental health services for young people.

The Matchbox Café, situated in Abington Street, will be hosting this event on Tuesday, May 18 from 10am to 3pm. Customers will be able to order whatever they want from their menu before choosing how much they would like to donate to the cafe’s chosen charity, The Lowdown.

The owner of the Matchbox Café, Bing Wan said: “This is the craziest idea I have ever tried but very unique. I am all for supporting people, charities and organisations; I have no problem putting my hand in my pocket and helping others out.

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“We are helping and supporting other people as much as ourselves. I’m just a really nice guy, who wants to do a really nice thing for our town and for our business.”

All proceeds from the ‘pay what you feel’ day will go towards Northampton mental health charity, The Lowdown, which offers free counselling, emotional wellbeing, sexual health and LGBTQ support services for 11-25-year-olds.

Bing, sharing his reasons for his choice of charity, said: “My worker, Yasmin has had a lot of help and support from The Lowdown and we helped them last year through the sale of raffle tickets so we thought it would be nice to help them again.

“We know mental health has been a big key issue regardless. You would be surprised with how many youngsters come in to see us anyway - late teens and early twenties - they come in with their support workers, friends and other groups and we are aware of them having mental health problems and we try to be adaptive in any way we can. It’s nice that we are helping people like that.”

The Matchbox Café and owner, Bing Wan.

The Matchbox Café will be one of many local businesses reopening this week following the further easing of lockdown restrictions on May 17 that allows for indoor hospitality to reopen.

This will be the first time in five months that the café will be able to allow customers to sit in, which is why this bold move to allow customers to pay whatever they want for food can be appreciated all the more.

Bing said: “There’s no set amount we want people to donate. We are doing it off our backs and asking customers to pay whatever they like. I am completely at the mercy of whatever people want to give.

“That being said, you will be surprised with how generous people can be. Customers have left us with very generous tips in the past.”

Owner of Matchbox Café, Bing Wan.

The Matchbox Café is a small eatery tucked away in a side street branching off from Northampton town centre’s busy Abington Street. It has two dining tables outside and three tables indoors and can, overall, seat up to ten people at maximum capacity, which is how the quirky little café earns its name.

Bing told the Chronicle & Echo that the location can, at times, be their “biggest problem” for business because shoppers cannot find them very easily. The café owner, however, considers The Matchbox Café to be a place where people can “relax away from the town centre.”

Describing the vibe of the café, Bing said: “If you know who we are and what we do then you will know that we are one of the cafés where you can come in, we will welcome you and we won’t ignore you.

“If you want to talk to us, we will talk to you; if you want to use our wifi, we will give you the password; if you want to sit down quietly and charge your phone, you are very welcome to do that. Me and Yasmin - we are the two nicest down-to-earth people in the town centre.”

Bing told the Chronicle & Echo that he came up with the idea of the ‘pay what you feel’ day last week and announced it very soon after on the weekly #NorthantsHour chat between local businesses and residents on Twitter every Thursday at 8pm.

He said: “To give everything away like this, we have never done this before! We only really put it out there on the Northants Hour chat and Yasmin thinks I’m crazy - she’s absolutely terrified. I’m terrified!

“I’m sure it will be fine and I’m just worrying myself about it but I have a good plan of what we are going to do and how we are going to do it. Most people I have spoken to about it think it is a fantastic idea."

The ‘pay what you feel’ day at the Matchbox Café will take place on Tuesday, May 18 between 10am and 3pm. To find out more information, visit the cafe’s Facebook page and Instagram page.

To find out more about The Lowdown charity, visit their website at https://thelowdown.info/.