Stop homelessness the delicious way

STREAT is a social enterprise that provides homeless youth with the life-skills, work experience and training they require to start a career in the hospitality industry. Our Melbourne based cafes, catering and coffee roasting businesses provide the venues (and some of the funds) needed to support these amazing young people.

Take a look at our opening times and locations, and pay us a visit! According to our customers, you’ll find our food and coffee is actually delicious!

Or, if you prefer, shop on-line and we will deliver you some more goodies!

STREAT’s founders, Rebecca Scott and Kate Barrelle, were inspired by KOTO, a training program and restaurant providing street youth with job opportunities in Vietnam. They kick-started STREAT in 2010 with two small food carts in Melbourne’s Federation Square and a class of nine trainees. STREAT has grown rapidly and now sold around 500,000 meals and coffees and provided almost 5,000 days of training and work experience to over 100 local street youth. Many have gone on to further education or found their first job. Two trainees from that first class are now fully qualified Chefs in Melbourne.

STREAT also recently won a national award for being Australia’s Most Innovative Social Enterprise.

STREAT - Blog

Bec Scott on 3RRR's Room With A View

On Monday, Bec Scott was on 3RRR Room with a View , chatting with Jessie and Maddy about STREAT's hospitality training, catering and string of cafes dedicated to getting homeless youth the skills and drive they need to kick start their careers.and our coming new site at Cromwell Manor in Collingwood

If you missed it, have a listen here

 

Transcription

Interviewer:

Rebecca Scott the co-founder of STREAT has just joined us in the studio, thanks for stopping by Rebecca.

Bec:

Thanks for the invitation.

Interviewer:

Now before we get started, can I get you to let our listeners out there know what STREAT is all about.

Bec:

Sure, STREAT is about stopping homelessness for young people between the age of 16 and 25, but we don’t do that the traditional way of putting roofs over heads I guess.

The way that we do it is by running businesses in hospitality, where young people get their training in hospitality from us, so that they can go on and get jobs and hold down a livelihood but we also provide a whole bunch of other support that they need along the way, so mental health, drug and alcohol stuff, life skills, so I guess you’d say we’re a social enterprise working in hospitality but providing a whole bunch of extra support to people along the way.

Interviewer:

Now, being one half of the brain behind STREAT, can we talk about the particular experience that lead to you embarking on this journey?   

Bec:

 Yeh sure, it’s got a funny kind of start to the process really, it wasn’t even in Australia, it was in Vietnam and the first seed was planted on a trip to Vietnam, the beginning of 2003 and I met a small boy over there in a park after a meal that I’d had and I taught him to thumb-wrestle and I didn’t know him or I didn’t know any of the other little children that he was playing with and it was late in the afternoon or early evening and we were all standing around thumb-wrestling and he and I ended up sitting around a little park bench together and as all the other young children disappeared off into the night, he just stayed on this park bench with me.

it wasn’t for a little while that we actually realised that he wasn’t going anywhere because he didn’t have a place to call home and it was a little bit longer again that I realised the reason that he wasn’t leaving the park bench was because it was his bed and I was actually sitting on his bed, he had a little piece of cardboard under the park bench and it was that moment of feeling just like such a helpless person, this woman from Australia, who couldn’t speak his language, riding off into the night on my motorbike, just wondering what would happen to that young boy and that was the first instance when homelessness really, really started to get under my skin.

I started to think well whose responsibility is this and it’s kind of easy to think it’s your government’s responsibility, or different agencies and sooner or later just saying- well why isn’t it mine?

Interview:

That is certainly powerful imagery there with that story, so you’ve retuned from Australia and you’ve thought well what can I do? Because homelessness is something that is quite happening here on our streets, particularly in Melbourne.

Bec:

Everywhere actually and it’s one of those things isn’t it where you’re torn if you’re walking down the street and you see a homeless person on the street, just trying to work out what you can do. For you guys it’s the same but that guilt feeling that you feel of like how come that is not me? What can I do to help and that helplessness you feel of like there’s nothing you can do at that moment to help that person.

Interviewer:

So with your organisation now, basically the focus is on getting those people involved and then giving them the support they need. What are some of the success stories you can share with us today, about how STREAT has helped?

Bec:

Oh look, we’ve had nearly 250 young people across the full range of programs we’ve got and even though I’ve got so many names and faces, flashing in my mind right now there’s always one young man who stands out to me so much because he’s the very first young man that I ever met, he’s a young man called Andy and he’d been sleeping rough in flagstaff gardens, just down beside the train station there and on the very first day, he and I were on the footsteps of William Angliss Institute on La Trobe street and we were trying to work out how to put his white new chef vests on and it’s got those kind of crazy buttons.

So we were trying to work out how does this uniform go on and he was shaking as he was trying to put on this uniform and I said; “you’ll be ok mate, I know it’s a big day for you but it’s a big day for us as well.”

It was the very first day that we ever had people in the program back in 2010 and he said ”it feels particularly special for me because over there, is where I used to sleep” and literally across the road you could see the tree that he used to sleep under in Flagstaff gardens and now he’s putting chef whites on, on the front steps of William Angliss, about to walk in the door there.

Andy is a young man, you know we’ve had many, many people like Andy, but he’s just for me always be extra special because he was the first young man that I ever met and we’ve stayed in contact all of that time, he’s never had another night of homelessness since he came through STREAT, he’s had a job in hospitality and also in retail, he’s now got a partner and they’re living in the burbs’ very happily partnered and if you saw Andy in the street, he just looks like any other young person, who’s doing great stuff in his life and doing the things he wants to do.

He for me is just a really good example of a young man who really had a fork in the road and really grabbed the opportunity that we gave him with both hands.

Interviewer:

It’s certainly a fantastic story and you’ve got the three sites at the moment; you’ve got Flemington, McKillop and Melbourne Central and a fourth on the way.

Bec:

No, well another fourth, not Cromwell St that you’re about to talk about, actually RMIT, so we started a new site at RMIT, right next to The Hub, we’ve got lots of people that go to The Hub and then drop in for a ‘cuppa’ along the way.

Interviewer:

The Hub takes like an hour to get to, so you need the coffee.

Bec:

I think you’re speaking from personal experience there Maddie!

Interviewer:

Little bit, I didn’t want to get into it.

Bec:

So yeh, we actually have four cafe sites around the city and a coffee roastery and a catering business as well, so seven businesses that we are operating across inner-Melbourne.

Interviewer:

Rebecca, how surreal is it to go from starting in a little van and now having all these sites and helping all these people and obviously with stories like Andy, what you are doing is pretty incredible. How surreal is it to reflect on where you’ve come from?

 Bec:

I do kind of constantly pinch myself, in March we are about to serve our millionth customer and so you think about a million meals and coffees being served and that’s a lot.

So in one sense it’s a bit exhausting thinking about it but in another it’s gone so fast, you know it’s only 5 years that we’ve had young people here and I honestly feel like we’re just getting started, this next year is huge for us. I spent the first day this year, reflecting on what’s coming up this year and in one sense we’re only really starting to realise what’s possible.

We want to get to the point where we’re helping 1,095 people this year, that sounds like a really obscure number I know but it’s actually the number of meals we’ll have each year, so 365 days a year, 3 meals, that’s 1,095.

So we’re helping about 100 you people each year now, but we want to ten fold that, so we’ve really got to start doing bigger things and this year certainly paves the way for that.

Interviewer:

Fantastic, now if you’ve just tuned in, you’re listening to “Room with a View” on RRR with Jesse and Maddie and we’re speaking with Rebecca Scott from STREAT Melbourne. So it’s sort of like the 5th location opening, which is going to be Cromwell St.

I did notice on the website that you’ve got a quote in regards to that and the quote is “It takes a village to raise a child” what is the significance of this quote in regards to Cromwell St and what are you hoping Cromwell St will bring to STREAT and the community in general.

Bec:

Cromwell St will be our flagship site and training academy in Collingwood and it came about after a man called Geoff Harris read about us in the newspaper and picked up the phone and came and had a ‘cuppa’ and one thing lead to another and he ended up buying us this property and what it does is it allows to really start to expand our programs majorly. It will take us from helping 100 young people each year to 250 each year.

But it’s a really good example of how people from the community have started to come and engage with us and the sites also being made possible by a bakery partner of ours called “Bread Solutions.” So what it’s been a really good example of you know, just individuals from the community, businesses, corporates, a whole bunch of just coming to us and saying, we want to be part of the future and really help you expand the business.

So that site, we hopefully start building it in March this year and hopefully, fingers crossed about Christmas this year or soon after, we’ll open the doors to that new site. It’s a really big building project but for us what it does is it really starts to expand the number of young people that we can help.

Interviewer:    

Are you still going to have a coffee focus, because coffee has kind of been where you started?

Bec:

Absolutely, the new site actually got a whole bunch of things on it, it’s got a new coffee roastery, so we actually get to expand that business substantially, it’s got a cafe, it’s got a bakery and then it’s got our production kitchen and then it’s got all of the youth training rooms and classrooms, so it’s pretty exciting.

So across this next year, you know we’re so keen for a whole bunch of people to start and be part of that site. Anywhere from coming and buying a meal as a customer, through to people who can start to volunteer their time or you imagine a building program of that size and there’s just so many things that we need help with. 

Interviewer:   

And I guess it’s quite reflective of what STREATs all about, getting everybody on board, wanting to help, doing their bit and then obviously it benefits the community as a whole. With the success you’re having here in Melbourne are there any plans to take things nationally?

 Bec:

We get asked that all the time, in fact we’ve been asked so many times to go overseas as well. In the future yes, but not until we’ve fully built and scaled the model in Melbourne. So give us at least a couple more years before we do that! But to get to that goal of 1,095, with Cromwell we get to 250 but we still need to scale substantially more to reach that goal that we’ve got. So that might be might be more scaling in Melbourne but it might be elsewhere as well, so watch this space.

Interviewer:   

Certainly and you’ve certainly achieved quite a bit in the short time that you’ve been operating, s thank you for stopping by today Rebecca and before we say goodbye where can our listeners go to see more or even get involved with helping STREAT out.
 
Bec:

Probably the best thing is to jump onto our website and look at all of our different sites and the addresses for those but there’s a site in Flemington, a site in McKillop St, Melbourne Central, across in Southbank- Freshwater Pl and RMIT right beside The Hub and if you’ve got a business and you ever need corporate catering, obviously we do that as well so there’s so many ways people can get involved and I’m a big believer, across our life we have 80,000 meals and just using one of those meals to make a change in someone’s life will help enormously, so thank you in advance to all those listeners who might do that this year.

{end}

 

Transcription by Caitlin Harris