Coffee hub to stir up funds for homeless

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A COFFEE shop which could help turn around the lives of the Capital's homeless as well as raise much-needed funds for vital services is set to open at the end of the month.

The city's Streetwork charity will officially launch its Captain Taylor's Coffee House on South Bridge on January 26 after years of planning.

The social enterprise project is designed to give the charity a new income stream as well as provide training opportunities and eventually jobs for the homeless people using Streetwork's services.

The coffee shop - which also provides food - will be run as a commercial business, with profits going straight back into the charity's work.

Jackie Whalen, a Streetwork fundraiser, said: "A lot of charities are turning to social enterprise because funding is tight and we are trying to get a self-sustaining stream of income.

"It's not a community cafe, like some charities have. We want to run it more as a commercial concern so it generates income that we can put back into frontline services."

Ms Whalen admitted that the idea was "ambitious" but that everything is now in place to help homeless people turn their lives around.

She said: "It will take a while to get the social enterprise aspect up and running, but the goal is to provide training and development opportunities to help our service users get back into the swing of things with a longer-term view to providing employment opportunities for them. We are working with people who are at their most desperate and vulnerable, but when somebody is ready to get a bit of structure in their life then we would put them forward for training and development.

"Our crisis centre on Holyrood Road has a kitchen and provides an ideal space for them to do initial training in basic food hygiene and preparation in an environment they feel comfortable in."

Training will be provided under Streetwork's Higher Ground Training Scheme, focusing on confidence building and interview techniques as well as gaining qualifications in skills such as IT, health, hygiene, service and hospitality.

Ms Whalen added: "People may have mental health issues, they may have had a responsible job in the past but their confidence is completely shot because of things that have happened to them in the past, they may have addiction issues or have suffered domestic abuse. It's very ambitious but we want to give people another route out of homelessness."

Streetwork formally ran the Ark cafe on New Street, which provided food for up to 110 homeless people. It was founded in 1936 but had to close in 2007 after its funding was axed by the city council.