Fighting Youth Homelessness One Latte at a Time

As well as giving you the energy needed to face the day, your morning coffee fix can do so much more - it can support the training of disadvantaged young people, fund a non-profit organisation and help end homelessness in Australia.

It makes the third cup of coffee in a day feel guiltless with proceeds from brews purchased at The Coffee Cart Changing Lives going directly towards the wages of young people experiencing homelessness.

The Coffee Cart Changing Lives works with young people from Launch Housing’s Post Foyer Flexible program as well as international students from RMIT University.

The social enterprise initiative was established with the mission to break the cycle of Australian youth experiencing homelessness by providing disadvantaged young people with the opportunity to learn work skills.

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Coffee Cart co-founder and general manager Maeve Thompson said trainees not only learned to be baristas but also developed other professional skills including punctuality, reliability and communication.

“We wanted to provide more long-term training and more experience for the trainees so they could have the confidence to apply for jobs as they know they’ve been practicing for four to six months as opposed to a weekend course,” Ms Thompson said.

Routines were developed and expectations were set just as they would be in jobs outside of the training environment, she said.

Melbourne is known as a city that loves coffee – cafes and specialty espresso bars are embedded in every suburb – which is why coffee was chosen for the social enterprise.

Coffee training is a valuable thing in Melbourne and getting a job as a barista is a very steady job once you actually have the skills.
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Ms Thompson said often the cost of coffee training courses was a setback for young people, with many courses only providing training at an “artificial” level and sending newly trained baristas into the industry with a "certificate and little practice.”

Cart supervisor Claudia Brophy-Odgers first volunteered her barista skills in 2017 and has seen a range of positive changes with the trainees she’s worked with over the past six months.

Ms Brophy-Odgers said there was a high level of enthusiasm from the trainees – “they really grab onto the opportunity."

Trainees really get a boost in confidence and a sense of responsibility. 

Melburnians outside RMIT will soon be able to experience the feel-good taste of coffee brewed by trainees with a second cart in the design stages and available to hire for catering events.

 

For more information visit The Coffee Cart Changing Lives Facebook page – they are currently seeking experienced baristas to volunteer.