Cork cafe owners pitch in to help migrants

Cork cafe owners pitch in to help migrants

Emer Kelly and Chris Heinhold ouside their Tabletop boardgame cafe on Castle Street. The proprietors have donated money towards a migrant rescue ship in the Mediterranean Sea. Picture: Eddie O’Hare

Over €400 has been raised by the boardgame café Tabletop and their customers for SOS Mediterranee who are at sea rescuing migrants fleeing North Africa.

Owners of the café, Chris Heinhold and Emer Kelly, donated the entire sales from their hot drink on Thursday to the French charity.

SOS Mediterranee is currently onboard the Norwegian flagged rescue ship Ocean Viking, along with 356 rescued migrants.

Speaking to The Echo, Chris and Emer said the ongoing story of the migrants, which were saved by the NGOs through four rescues across four days off the coast of Libya, really resonated with him and he wanted to do something to raise awareness of the ongoing crisis.

The ship, which is equipped to carry 200-250 people, now has 356 migrants onboard and both Italy and Malta are refusing to allow the vessel to enter its ports.

The Central Mediterranean is said to be one of the most dangerous routes for people trying to flee Africa and the Middle East for Europe.

Since the start of the year, over 400 people have died after setting off from Libya.

Chris and Emer said it is very easy for us in Ireland to forget about what is happening in the Mediterranean, but said it is European policy and is effectively happening in our names. We are very far away from it all in Ireland, but I wanted to raise awareness to the ongoing problem.”

They highlighted the fact that these are vulnerable people seeking refuge and said no one should be illegal.

“We just wanted to get people thinking and talking, normally we joke about boardgames and coffee on our Facebook page, but this news story really struck a chord with me and Emer and I wanted to do something about it.”

Through posting their donation of €300 on their Facebook page and including a link to SOS Mediteranee, another €100 was raised through people giving additional money to the organisation.

Tabletop, which will be open two years at Christmas, has had a very busy summer with the wet weather adding a boost to business.

“Everyone is lamenting the bad weather we got this summer, but it is great for us, because it drives people into us on a wet afternoon to play games!”

Tabletop also recently opened a second café, Tabletop West, in Bantry.

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