Two Peas in a Pod is our blog series which focuses on two people who have a strong bond or connection as relatives or friends and are linked to Near Neighbours projects. For our blog, I went to Harehills in Leeds, to visit TLC (ToastLoveCoffee) and meet Anna (left) and Jill (right).

TLC is a warm and friendly community café which enables the diverse neighbourhood of Harehills to come together and meet. Near Neighbours funded their project in September 2014, and since then the café which is open Monday to Friday, is a thriving and enjoyable place to be. The motto at TLC is ‘pay what you feel’.

Within a minute of arriving, I was welcomed by hard working volunteers and I met project leader Anna, and also Jill. Anna pointed out the furniture at the café which had been upcycled by her and volunteers. The décor had a quirky and ‘shabby chic’ vibe.  

Sitting down at a table where the view from the window overlooked Harehills, café volunteer, Ashley, arrived at our table to serve some lunch. I then got the chance to learn more about the beautiful friendship between Anna and Jill. Here’s what unfolded.


How long have you known each other?

Anna & Jill:  About 10 years.


How did you meet?

Anna & Jill: We met through the organisation Together for Peace, a community development charity in Leeds.


What word would you pick to describe your relationship?

Anna: Deep

Jill: Profound


When was the moment you discovered you had a good bond/connection?

Anna: I don't think there's a specific moment, but one that springs to mind was after we became close, when I was telling Jill about this crazy idea I had to set up a café, and she said, 'I'll be with you' and she has.

Jill: When we were able to laugh and cry together.


What do you like about the other?

Anna: Jill is astute, incredibly thoughtful and very wise. She is a very good friend, and I completely value her opinion, often more than my own. We have laughed and cried a lot together, and shared lots of hugs.

Jill: Anna has an infectious love of life, a deep integrity, and a generous big heart. She is one of the warmest and kindest people I know.


What’s the fondest memory you have together?

Anna: The day after Brexit, Jill came round for Friday night dinner. She ended up being the judge for my kids playing a game of musical bumps. It was the best antidote to the day before.

Jill: There are too many to list! Being instrumental in bringing ToastLoveCoffee to life has to be one of them though and all the precious moments in the café with so many people from all walks of life.


How has the person had an impact to your life?

Anna: More than she'll ever know. Jill has opened my eyes and my heart to so much, and I am most definitely a better person through our friendship.

Jill: Knowing Anna is a profound blessing. She's a dear friend as well as a colleague. It's a privilege and an inspiration to know her.


How has TLC made an impact to you and the community of Harehills?

Anna: I am a better person through getting to know the people at TLC and in Harehills. I have always learned to see the blessings in my life, even when it feels hard to do so. TLC has given me a fresh perspective on so many things. I have learned new skills in the kitchen and I have been able to break down stereotypes other people may have had of Jewish people. 

I am really proud that TLC has become a little community; those of us who are regulars there really do care a lot for each other, and have built a culture of deep respect, finding the commonality, enjoying the time we have together, and always being welcoming to new people. 

And I've heard that Harehills (or at least this little part of it) feels safer, and happier, and there is more of a sense of pride in the area, since the opening of The Ark and the increase of activities and opportunities for engagement (café, youth sessions, clubs and lessons).

Jill: A number of years ago I made a commitment to build the capacity in Harehills and I looked for opportunities to do this. It seemed such a natural fit for TLC to be based alongside CATCH/ at The Ark and to support its development. Seeing (old and young) members of the community growing in their involvement in the café illustrates how important it is to work in places over a long period of time.


To find out more about TLC visit here.