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A new charity is fighting homelessness in London by turning rough sleepers into baristas

David Clack

Think for a minute: when was the last time you bought a Big Issue? Would you have bought one sooner if, instead of flicking through it and leaving it on the No 38 you could drink it and get a little caffeine buzz? This is presumably the thinking behind Change Please, a new project seeking to get the country’s homeless off the streets by training them as baristas.

Backed by the aforementioned magazine and Cemal Ezel, co-founder of Peckham’s Old Spike Roastery, Change Please rolls out to the streets of London this week, and will see homeless people paid the London living wage (£9.15 an hour) to serve up drinks from mobile coffee carts. The scheme will launch with eight vendors across the city, before extending to Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

But, as Ezel is keen to point out, this is no quick-fix scheme – the eventual aim is to help vendors secure a more meaningful place in society, with support on hand when it comes to finding accommodation and full-time work. ‘We were interested in supporting the onward journey The Big Issue already provides by creating new opportunities for the vendors,’ he told The Big Issue. ‘We really want to make sure this work makes a lasting difference in their lives because as a group they are trying to take big steps forward.’

So, a warm fuzzy feeling in your heart and your belly? You certainly don’t get that at the big chains.

For a list of London locations, check out the Change Please website.

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