The Hop 50+ is a community space and café in Hove, offering a range of activities and social opportunities for people over 50. They are part of a citywide Ageing Well programme through Impact Initiatives.

With its open kitchen, the café provides freshly cooked excellent food and great coffee without high street prices. 

Open throughout the week, with Friday dedicated to people living with early stage dementia, it is run by a mix of paid staff and volunteers. Activities include day trips out, exercise groups, bingo, quizzes and art groups. 

Staff member Lin describes a typical day:

“We’ve got the chiropodist here today, we’ve had two yoga classes, and we’ve got a cognitive behaviour therapy group turning up shortly, and this afternoon the café will become an art group. People pay for the chiropodist and the art group is a fiver, but that’s with a tutor and art materials for two hours. The lunch meal deal is £9 for the hotpot and a homemade upside down pineapple cake with custard and a tea/coffee.”


“People come in and create their own experience of the Hop. So, for some people, they come in once a week for a roast dinner, for other people it will be for the exercise class and having a coffee, and so it’s a real mix of people.” 

Demand has been growing. Tammi who works here as a chef/baker tells us they are getting at least 30 people a day, double the number from before Covid. 

“Most days people need to book, whereas before you could just turn up and we would always have enough food. Now there’s only so much we can do with a domestic-sized oven. Also, word has got out.” 

FareShare Sussex & Surrey provides around three quarters of their food.

“The tea bags are from FareShare Sussex & Surrey, as well as the flour, bananas and the butter in the cake I made today,” says Tammi.

Jake, who is another chef at the Hop50+, adds:

“The food we get from FareShare Sussex & Surrey encourages us to have more variety. We have to think about how to use things, especially vegetables, so people try foods they wouldn’t normally have. Take celeriac, for example, we make a mash with it to serve with roast dinners or make a soup with it. We try and balance these items with more traditional food. We do a roast dinner twice a week, which is very popular. It’s all homemade and fresh.”

Tammi continues:

“We do themed days, so when we got in a load of salami and chorizo from FareShare Sussex & Surrey, we prepared a Spanish meal. This was a big event with all the tablecloths out and Spanish music. When food comes through we freeze it so that we can plan what events we can use it for in the future. This week we got meat alternatives from FareShare Sussex & Surrey, which we’ve frozen. We have a lot of vegetarians so they always have food options.”

The Hop has to prepare menus ahead of time because people like to see what the lunches are going to be.

“Normally, I get a delivery of meat in twice a week, so we use joints for roast dinners. Then we get a Tesco delivery once a week, sometimes twice, depending on what we need. So we wait to see what we get from FareShare Sussex & Surrey on a Tuesday, then we piece it all together,” Jake explains. 

Tammi emphasises the attention paid to the menu.

“Sometimes centres like this can provide quite school dinner-type meals, but because Jake puts so much effort into the food, we really try to make it as creative and interesting as possible.” 


“It’s so important for the elderly. Sometimes it’s the only time they’ll eat a main course, and it’s a social thing, bringing everyone together. Also, we’ve got people that used to stick to jacket potatoes every day, and now they’re having curries, and with chillies. I particularly like our open kitchen, so we get to see and talk to everyone.”

During our visit, we also chatted to some of the beneficiaries who come regularly.

Anna who has been coming for the past six months tells us:

“The staff are tremendous. They’re so friendly, so caring, they’re lovely! Other than that, the food is fabulous.”

Linda who has been coming for a year explains how many older people don’t bother cooking for themselves. 

“The time it takes to prepare everything, and then it goes so quickly, and then you have to wash it all up. Not only that, it’s social here – you’ve got someone to talk to. Especially when you live alone. You can come here and they’re really friendly, and if anybody new comes, you always try to talk to them.”  

Anna agrees: “We’ve met so many lovely people here, and after a very short amount of time you know everybody by name. My favourite thing about here, too, is all the vegetables you get. I don’t have to worry about vegetables today, as I’ve had plenty already.”

Written by Valerie Hart, professional writer and volunteer for FareShare Sussex & Surrey