We’d talked about giving back, however, we were always mindful that we need to and should be going beyond dipping our hand into our pockets, and really leveraging our knowhow and infrastructure to become a springboard for others. So this became a mission and more than ‘helping’.
So we put together a blueprint of what we feel encapsulates community-centric issues and works to address them, from creating a space that is inclusive, stimulates cohesion, creates education & on job learning, builds life skills and responds to social inequality.
Each ‘Hub’ is set up as a Community Interest Company (CIC), established by the Coffee Snobs Roasted Coffee Limited AND the Partner organisation to take a timely opportunity to support, engage and fulfil our joint aspirations and that of our community to have a café that acts as a Community Hub, a place of support that provides lower cost food & drink, enhances community interaction and builds cohesions, supports life skills development and aims to tackle social issues in the heart of that community.
The company will be a trading entity where incoming funds are from the sale of goods, but the prime return is for social benefit.
Our aim is to create a sustainable, profit with purpose, high quality community café for residents and local communities which will provide a hub space/meeting place for a wide cross section of the community, promote community cohesion and offer opportunities for local people to build confidence and skills through active hospitality training and participating in the project as volunteers.
And what that may entail is that we set up the cafe, with products (we roast our own beans so we can manage the supply chain, reduce costs and enhance sustainability), provide equipment, formulate the menu with subsisdised offerings, deal with Staff development and pretty much most of setting up and running the cafe. So we can take care of the operational side basically.
And to ensure that this is always community focused, and a socially driven enterprise, we’ll build in processes that encourage community participation over the long term.
Why are we both doing this?
Just a common-sense response to local needs and challenges.
We realised that a Café environment creates Community cohesion, supports vulnerable people, can remove isolation, enables new ideas and mindsets, provides a real sense of community, develops integration and improves the lives of others that significantly increase access to better opportunities, immediate upskilling, reduction in anti-social behaviour. It’s also a very moral and ethical way to set the direction for the business and the people around it.
We have observed fragmented communities, low skills uptake, lack of opportunities or access to opportunities, high everyday costs and reducing disposable income, an increase in loneliness and isolation. On the other hand, we’ve observed high small business failure rates locally due to a narrow focus and offering combined with seasonal trade, high rent/rates, and a significant income strain.
The only way to mitigate all that is diversification, careful & smart employment design, and a concept that allows growth without sacrificing revenue or employment.
The Community Context – We all need to play a role in ending Food Poverty
Recent child poverty statistics from the Child Poverty Action Group indicated that a third of children live in homes with income poverty, this is the highest in Buckinghamshire. Recent ACORN figures indicate that around half of the community is categorised as “hard-pressed families”. However the community is diverse and over 16% of the population work in professional or technical occupations with a growing number of lower-income, less 21st century skilled and displaced families now entering the community as a result of migration issues globally and the cost of living in counties close to London.
Recent issues around food poverty as highlighted through the Marcus Rashford campaign to support vulnerable children & #endchildfoodpoverty and any Community Cafe should aim to support this campaign by implementing 3 recommendations from the National Food Strategy to expand access to Free School Meals through the Community Cafe where possible, provide subsidised or free .meals & activities during holidays to stop holiday hunger & increase the value of and expand the Healthy Start scheme.