Change Please – a coffee company staffed by homeless people – is adding to its 47 sites across the UK by launching in town tomorrow (1/11).
Starting in 2015, the organisation offers those who find themselves homeless a three month paid training programme to become baristas, help rebuild their confidence and give them skills to get back into society and restart their lives.
Cemal Ezel started the social enterprise because he saw homeless people wanted to work and decided to give them an opportunity.
According to Cemal, the coffee industry is the perfect way to help rough sleepers, stating:
“You have got two options, give them a chance or don’t and they get worse and turn to drugs or alcohol.
“We believe the coffee industry has the power to change lives.”
The programme provides the individual with new clothes, a haircut and access to accommodation for a few days before they are then paid the £9 per hour Living Wage to find somewhere permanent to live.
The company also offers therapy support to those that need it.
Cemal said: “It’s using the barista skills as a soft way of bringing that person into employment.
“Seeing people again, rebuilding their confidence and instead of asking people for money, someone is asking you for a cappuccino.
“You are changing the dynamic of your place in society.”
Change Please supplies coffee to We Work offices across London, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Manchester and is looking to set an example to bigger coffee shop chains.
All of their cups are made from plant material and their waste coffee can be ground into biofuel.
He said: “If large businesses did any of those things, the impact that would have across the UK would be huge.”
At the end of the three-month programme, they support the trainee into a new job at another coffee shop or help to pursue their long-term dreams. For example, Change Please recently paid for graphic design training for a former employee who now has a job as a graphic designer.
WeWork UK and Ireland General Manager Mathieu Proust said: “As we open new buildings, like in Edinburgh and Cambridge, our hope is that we continue to serve our community and implement local impact initiatives, whilst ensuring that we connect with our neighbours and create opportunities to foster collaborative relationships.
“I look forward to watching our collaboration with Change Please grow.”
The coffee bar will open tomorrow (1/11) at the new WeWork offices on 55 Colmore Row B3 2AA and is available to WeWork members.