Northampton coffee shop launches scheme to help those struggling to get back into employment

Saints Coffee is appealing to local charities and organisations to refer people to their 'Baristars' programme to provide them with crucial skills and help to get into employment

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 7:30 am
Co-founders of Saints Coffee, Ben Francoise and Nicola Butler. Photo by Kirsty Edmonds.

A coffee shop and social enterprise in Northampton town centre has introduced a scheme to help people, who are struggling to find employment.

Co-founder of Saints Coffee in St Giles Street, Ben Francoise kickstarted the 'Baristars' programme in August 2021 to help improve the skills and confidence of 'those furthest from the labour market.'

The programme has since taken on seven people and helped three of them find employment in the hospitality sector.

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Louis working as a bartender at Saints Coffee.

Ben said: "The idea is to give them any kind of training for jobs they are interested in. This includes barista, bartending and food prep training.

"We just wanted to use the business to help give people the skills, the training and confidence to get back into work."

The programme aims to take on 20 people in the next 12 months and those eligible can come from any background as long as they have the right to work in the UK.

The programme aims to help people struggling to find employment and can include those recovering from drug or alcohol addictions, ex-prisoners, the homeless, social care leavers, mothers returning from maternity leave and people coming out of the immigration system after seeking asylum in the UK.

Ben, talking about why he kickstarted the programme, said: "For me, it is about our business having a purpose. Profit is not a dirty word - we need money to live.

"We have the women's wellness programme and things like that already that get the community together - they are all things that are relatively straight forward for a coffee shop.

"The ones that are a bit tricky are the ones we go out to the schools. It is important we are using the business to help people who really need that help as well as giving customers a service they can enjoy."

Louis is just one person who has benefitted from the 'Baristars' programme. He is currently living in shared accommodation at The Hope Centre, a homeless charity in Northampton and he has ADHD, which has made looking for work difficult for him in the past.

Louis said: "I had previously worked in hospitality, but learned a lot more about customer service and how to work better in a team.

"The program has helped me control my ADHD by learning methods to focus on tasks at hand like making cocktails.

"The programme has made me more independent, able to think more maturely for myself. I’m more understanding and able to think about consequences, for example, when Ben has explained what he needs from me working in a team and to deliver high quality customer service."

Now that Louis is employed in the hospitality sector as a bartender, he feels that he is now "set up for more opportunities" and will soon be able to seek his own accommodation.

Saints Coffee has been reaching out to local charities, organisations and the local authority to ask them to refer people in need to their 'Baristars' programme, which aims to build on confidence and interpersonal skills and provide training for barista, bartender and waiting staff positions.

The social enterprise is also on the lookout for people who have a background in recruitment and employment to come in and give advice on CV writing and interview skills.

Ben added: "It might be charities who work with the homeless or the local authority, who know people who need this kind of help. We are building our network at the moment. What we need is more referrals.

"It takes us a lot of time to find the individuals ourselves as we have no training with that. But, between us all, we have the right skills to help people."

If you are interested in joining the Saints Coffee Baristars programme or you are a local charity, organisation or business who can provide referrals to the programme, reach out to Ben on the Saints Coffee Facebook page or their website at https://www.saintscoffee.co.uk/