Change Please, started in 2015 in London by giving homeless people the opportunity to run their own mobile coffee shop. Since then, the company has been very successful.
Change Please’s coffee is now available in Virgin Atlantic’s aircraft, the company has started selling England’s only CO2 neutral toilet paper and have recently bought a larger coffee bar chain all to help homeless people.
The core activity of Change Please is to train homeless people to become baristas and in that way hopefully get access to the labor market.
Homeless people start as interns at Change Please’s Specialty Coffee Association training center, where they cover all aspects of coffee making, from green beans and frying to making “latte art” and customer service. The goal is to equip them with the skills and experience so they can start a new career and get a safe place to live.
In addition to providing the homeless with work skills, the focus is also on the broader needs of homeless people. With a secure income, one can e.g. start helping to improve living conditions, help with therapy needs. Change Please also helps with some of the practical administrative challenges that homeless people face when they return to working and have to manage their finances.
In addition to selling coffee from mobile coffee bars, Change Please has also produced its own coffee blends, which eg. are sold in Sainsbury’s 375 stores across the UK and in Change Please’s own webshop. The webshop also sells shopping bags and T-shirts.
100% of the profits that Change Please receives is uset to give homeless people, a living wage job, housing, education, opportunities in the future – and in general a good start to a new and better life.
Serious Tissues – new initiative
In 2020, Change Please expanded its activities with a new initiative – Serious Tissues.
Serious Tissues is a toilet paper brand of 100% recycled paper that is CO2 neutral , which is sold to help frontline employees in the NHS (England’s national health service). The brand and the visual identity have been developed by the independent creative agency, Above + Beyond.
The original intention of the initiative was to focus on tackling climate change through a commitment to plant trees around the world. But Corona has provided a more immediate need. So instead the Serious Tissues initiative has chosen that every penny from initiative should go to help patients and volunteers because they are dealing with this crisis on behalf of everyone else.
100% of the profits from Serious Tissues goes to the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal initiative. The initiative is coordinated by NHS Charities Together, which is an umbrella organization for 170 of NHS charitable initiatives across the UK. The money will be used where it is most needed and distributed by local NHS charities to eg. help NHS staff through the demanding long shifts they have in trying to fight the disease, as well as help with travel, parking and accommodation expenses for staff and volunteers and to support the recovery of NHS staff and volunteers after the pandemic.
To make the brand CO2 neutral Serious Tissues plant a tree for every roll of toilet paper that is sold. Serious Tissues works with communities in a number of countries and helps create employment for people who need it. The trees are currently planted in the United Kingdom, Nepal, Indonesia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, Haiti, Colombia and Central America. The trees planted are indigenous species that are native to the regions in which they are planted.
In addition to toilet paper, the Serious brand also has a soap product – Serious Soap. Serious Soap is an initiative to combat plastic pollution in the oceans, and for every soap bar sold, 3 kilos of plastic are removed from the oceans.
Expanding to news locations
To further increase its impact, Change Please has just acquired AMT Coffee, which is a coffee shop chain with 55 coffee bars. This is done as part of a strategy to create more social enterprises.
It is p
art of the purchase agreement that Change Please retains the 370 employees that AMT Coffee has today.The 55 coffee bars are located in connection with airports, train stations and hospitals.
The purchase is financed by Change Please itself as well as with loans and fund donations from Social Investment Business and Comic Relief. In connection with the acquisition, Change Please has taken over a debt of £ 5 million that AMT Coffee primarily owed in rent. According to Cemal Ezel, head of Change Please, the AMT coffee shops will be run as a separate company owned by Change Please and the profits from the company will be donated to Change Please. (Or more precisely to Change Please´s community interest company).
Change Please across borders
Change Please is not just expanding in England. In November 2020, Change Please Australia was launched in Perth, Western Australia in collaboration with the Australian organization Five Senses. The good results that Change Please has had in England in bringing homeless people to work as coffee baristas can now hopefully be transferred to Western Australia. There are currently about 9,000 homeless people here, so there is a need for solutions that the Chang Please can provide.
In Denmark, the social enterprise Kaffe Karma works according to the same idea of helping the homeless by selling organic coffee to-go from mobile coffee shops, from events and arrangements or directly from the company’s webshop. For the time being, Kaffe Karma is primarily active in the Copenhagen area.
This publication has been prepared within SENBS project No. 2020- 1-EE01-KA204-077999. The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of the project coordinator and may not always reflect the views of the European Commission or the National Agency.