HOW AN ETHIOPIAN GOATHERD AND A FORMER HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR TACKLED LONELINESS IN BEDFORDSHIRE
Kaldi, a ninth century goat herder from the highlands of Ethiopia and Nicky Perfect, a former hostage negotiator from the village of Riseley in Bedfordshire, have an intriguing connection.
They are both inspiring conversations around a simple cup of coffee.
When Kaldi’s goats nibbled on the strange red cherry-like fruit that hung from a nearby bush, they became strangely energised. These ‘giddy’ goats had discovered Arabica coffee beans.
With the Giddy Goat coffee shop, Nicky has created a community focal point with parallels to the Ethiopian way, also built on storytelling and local beans. But, inspired by her personal values – to be of service, listen and be kind – there is a more serious motivation underlying her work.
As the sole female international hostage negotiator during a thirty-year career at New Scotland Yard, Nicky knows that a common factor leading to personal and community crisis, is loneliness. She has seen how that most basic human need can spiral out of control when people can’t see a way forward or have experienced loss.
But this can be avoided by simple human interaction.
The opportunity to make a difference in her village of Riseley came about when Nicky bought a garage for servicing and MOT’s, to which she added a gym. With the remaining space, she created a coffee shop. So, locals can have a workout followed by coffee and cakes with friends while waiting for their car to be serviced!
During the 2020 lockdown, the gym and garage businesses had to close. With community connections more important than ever, Nicky re-focused the coffee shop as a virtual hub to serve older locals, those who are vulnerable, and parents who were finding home schooling tough.
She introduced split shifts for lunchtimes and evening take-away services of her wholesome, home-cooked food and went online to deliver within the village.
Nicky’s four goats kept the children entertained on their daily lockdown walks and she also formed a volunteer service to match helpers with a need, such as prescription pick-ups. She is proud to have stayed open and is always available for a chat.
Now looking for sponsorship, Nicky wants to expand to serve a potential customer base of over 10,000 people in surrounding villages with a fleet of yellow vans. She said: “We hope to be fully open for business soon. I love that people call us just to chat and am hoping to take my café conversations online with a podcast.”