The story of STREAT Coffee starts when co-founders Rebecca Scott and Kate Barrelle worked for KOTO, a training program and restaurant providing street youth with life and job skills in Hanoi. Following her time at KOTO, Rebecca visited many outstanding social enterprises in Thailand, Laos and Indonesia.
Seeing the positive impact of such social enterprise work, this inspired Rebecca to pursue this as a research topic in her Masters of International and Community Development. STREAT was born from such key experiences and research.
In early 2008, STREAT Coffee piloted the program. They tested the model and developed strategies, policies and procedures to expand the model further, 2009 was used to lay down foundations while 2010 they kick-started the program. I chat to Michael Lawson, from STREAT Coffee about their work.
STREAT Coffee believe that every young person should be given the opportunity to reach their potential. This isn’t possible for a young person if they don’t have somewhere safe, affordable and loving to belong.
Have you seen first hand how STREAT Coffee has made an impact?
To date we’ve worked with over 400 young people, providing them with over 30,000 hours of support and training opportunities. Every day we see these young people slowly emerge from their mental health issues, their drug and alcohol addictions, from their violent households or prisons, and we see them starting to gain confidence and start dreaming about their futures. Six years on we remain as optimistic that every young person, no matter what their starting point, given the right supports and opportunities can achieve amazing things.
What are some of the challenges STREAT Coffee has faced in adopting the social enterprise model?
The young people who come to STREAT Coffee are battling with a complex set of personal challenges to overcome. In most cases, this makes them completely unemployable when they arrive at STREAT Coffee. So imagine having a core team of 30 baristas, chefs and hospitality professionals, and then asking them to run businesses where we embed a further 100 unemployable young people to their teams. This brings some challenges. But it also brings extraordinary opportunities to both young people, to our staff, and also to our customers who all become part of the social change.
What can the community interested in supporting your work, do to support?
Across our lives, we’ll each have about 80,000 meals, and tens of thousands of coffees. The best way to support us is to come and enjoy at least one of them at a STREAT Coffee cafe (we’ve got 5 sites around the city). And then spread the love! Come back again with your friends and family. But you could also have us cater your next work function, get involved in our annual fundraising campaign, follow us on social media, buy our new cookbook that comes out at Christmas time, make a donation (every donation over $2 is tax deductible), consider coming and volunteering your time, get your workplace to put us down as a charity in its workplace giving scheme. Every little bit counts!