A Canary Wharf social enterprise which trains homeless people to be baristas has been handed The Trailblazing Newcomer Award by NatWest.
Change Please is a joint project between Old Spike Roastery and The Big Issue which helps people living on the streets turn their lives around by teaching them the skills needed to serve up coffee and find employment.
It’s portable Piaggio vans are stationed outside the tube station in Reuters Plaza during the week as well as in Borough Market and at The Shard.
Everyone who signs up for the training is provided with housing, support, a London living wage and at the end of six months should be ready to move onto other employment opportunities.
The project’s work has now been commended at The NatWest SE100 Awards which track and celebrate the growth, impact, ambition and resilience of social enterprises in the UK.
The Trailblazing Newcomer Award is awarded to a newcomer social enterprise which has made great strides to become a leader amongst their peers, showing solid growth with a commitment to proving the positive impact of their business.
Change please director Cemal Ezel said the team was very proud to have won both the Natwest SE100 Trailblazer award and the Social Enterprise UK One to Watch award in November.
“The end goal of what we do is to find a pathway out of homelessness through selling great coffee.
“The support from the wonderful people working within Canary Wharf and the organisations based here has been invaluable in increasing demand for our coffee and therefore employment.
“We have an innovative model which is making a difference to people but without the support of Canary Wharf Group we would not have been able to have as big an impact.”
The enterprise will be expanding to Liverpool Street in January and recently held a successful crowdfunding campaign to raise £20,000 towards another new van. It is inviting the public to vote on where the new location should be.
Cemal collected the award at a ceremony at the NatWest/RBS conference centre in London with Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, congratulating the winners on their outstanding achievements.
She said: “The different organisations awarded here tonight are excellent examples of how social enterprises make a real difference in our country every day.”
NatWest RBS head of enterprise Julie Baker praised the winners for their “determination not just to make money but to make a difference”.
Vote for the location of the new Change Please van here.
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