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Make coffee for change

 
January 5th 2016
 

Lucy, one of the Old Spike Roastery's trainees

Homeless people are being trained as baristas and set up with coffee carts to provide them with jobs and a route into permanent housing through a new scheme backed by the Big Issue.

The Change Please programme, launched in November 2015, will initially see eight coffee carts operating in London, staffed by former rough sleepers who will be taught to make top-quality coffee and paid the London Living Wage of £9.15 per hour.

The scheme’s founder, Cemal Ezel, who co-owns Old Spike Roastery, a social enterprise in south London, hopes to roll it out to Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Potential baristas will be referred by local councils and from charities including Crisis and the Big Issue.

Change Please, a not-for-profit organisation, will underwrite tenancies for the trainees and set them up with bank accounts, aiming to support them into permanent jobs as baristas in conventional coffee shops after six months of operating a cart.

The ‘Change Please’ title has attracted some controversy, as it appears to contradict the Big Issue’s tagline of “working not begging”, but Ezel says that the name for the project came to him when he went to a Banksy exhibition and saw a painting that read: ‘Keep your coins, I want change’.

Peter Bird, director of distribution at the Big Issue, said: “The Big Issue works well to provide people currently living on the streets with a way to help themselves work towards a better life, but there is a gap between that segment of homelessness and securing a regular job that needed a solution.”

Pascal Pompet, 44, one of the new baristas in the capital, had been sleeping on night buses but found some stability while selling the Big Issue. Although he is currently staying on a friend’s sofa, he hopes his new job will lead to a settled home.

Pompet said: “It’s a great opportunity – really beautiful. I was really happy to get involved in the training and give it a go. It hasn’t taken too long to pick up the machinery and all the blends. I’m looking forward to serving this coffee to the public now. I’m a coffee drinker myself, and I know how good it tastes. I just hope the customers are as excited about it as we are.”

The scheme is one of a growing number of similar ones, aimed at giving homeless people a chance to re-train. Other include Social Bite – backed by actor George Clooney – and We Walk the Line.

 
 
 

Jan/Feb 2016

 

Contents

Call to open buildings

Surviving homelessness

Surviving the streets

Getting off the streets

Body and soul

Making move-on work

Voices of the street: what we can learn from Brazil

Make coffee for change

Young Scots struggle

Bin death warning

The Spice ain’t nice

Homeless: sanction risk doubles

Prof Green on homelessness

Landlord fine for eviction

Advice: self-harm

 

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