A fork in the road for street youth
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STREAT supports and trains disengaged youth, who are at high risk of homelessness, for six-months across its now four cafes. Trainees learn to prepare and serve delicious meals and coffee and upon graduation, the newly educated youth receive a Certificate II in hospitality from the William Angliss Institute.
Since its first small food cart started in 2010, STREAT has sold 350,000 meals and coffees, provided 30,000 hours of paid employment to its youth, trained fifty-two young people in the program and graduated six full classes, and the numbers increase every day. The majority of STREAT graduates are now working – most for the first time in their lives. Some are employed in Melbourne's best restaurants and cafes, including Charcoal Lane in Fitzroy.
STREAT's cafes and coffee businesses are the life-blood of the organisation. They provide the work and training opportunities for the young people and the income to help fund the social support program. Many of the trainees and graduates face some of life's most difficult challenges. Here are a couple of their stories.
Amena, a young African Australian woman, dropped out of school early after suffering bullying due to her ethnicity and an intellectual disability, and was placed in crisis accommodation due to ongoing abuse at home. When Amena first arrived at STREAT, she was unable to travel on public transport without her support worker.
STREAT's chefs gave Amena extra training to help her progress through the course. She was one of STREAT's first graduates and has now completed a full apprenticeship in fine dining, and travels to and from work by herself.
Another STREAT graduate, Jimmy, shared a similar experience. When he came out as gay in his teens, he suffered such strong abuse at home he decided homelessness was a better option. He started to rely on cannabis as a coping mechanism, which triggered psychotic episodes and depression. When he came to STREAT, he found a group of people that helped him to "get my life together". After graduating, Jimmy took on a full-time apprenticeship, and is now an assistant manager at a restaurant.
AN ENTERPRISING STORY
In late 2011, STREAT and the Social Roasting Company (a Fair Business social enterprise) began discussions of how to maximise the impact of these two not for profit organisations, both of which are dedicated to providing training and employment opportunities for some of the most disadvantaged young people in Melbourne. The result of these conversations was STREAT's recent acquisition of the Social Roasting Company's two Melbourne cafes and coffee roasting business. These operations and their accompanying kitchens have allowed STREAT to further expand the training and employment opportunities for its young people.
A FINANCIAL STORY
STREAT arranged the funding for this acquisition through the equity investments of three philanthropic foundations/groups and one small business. This is very likely a first for social enterprise in Australia and a turning point for the future strategies of the philanthropic and ethical investment industry in Australia.
- Street culture
- Social Enterprise
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