For many young Australians, their biggest concern day-to-day may be whether their phone battery will last the school day or who they’ll hang out with at lunch. But for almost 44,000 young Australians, their biggest concern is where they will sleep that night.
Homelessness is a challenge that one in 10 Australians will face across their lifetime – a startling statistic for many who have never had to worry about having a roof over their head.
For young people in particular, being disengaged from school or work can also further create or exacerbate social and mental health issues leading to a greater risk of housing instability - even finding themselves with nowhere to sleep.
Social enterprise STREAT provides a bridge to employment for young people facing challenges causing disadvantage. Founded in 2009 by Bec Scott and Kate Barrelle, STREAT has since helped more than 1,500 young people with their various training and outreach programs.
Deputy CEO, Elise Bennetts, says the programs help the young people build stability and health back into their lives, while gaining work experience and hospitality qualifications from regular training across STREAT’s businesses.
“We have seven cafés, a bakery, a coffee roastery and a daily catering business and we generate 77 per cent of our own income through these businesses,” she says.
Elise says people begin to realise their morning coffee isn’t just a hit of caffeine – it becomes a daily dose of meaning and goodness in their lives.
“Being able to see that goodness in action is really powerful,” she says.
Speaking with ANZ News from STREAT’s newest location inside ANZ’s campus at 839 Collins Street in Melbourne, Elise says partnering with large corporates has helped STREAT close the gap in their funding.
“What makes STREAT different to other not-for-profits is that we want to do business with [corporates],” she says. “We can bespoke make anything the corporate wants from their own personal coffee blend to hampers, cookbooks and seasonal products like Christmas puddings or hot cross buns.”
For ANZ, the decision to partner with a social enterprise was a deliberate and considered one. With the opening of the new campus building, there was a real opportunity to look at the tendering process differently and make a selection of a partner that aligned directly with our own values and purpose. Being able to give back via a coffee, through catering for a team meeting or through corporate packages will allow us to see a scaled and very real partnership across ANZ.
Elise says having a café inside a corporate office, exclusive to that company’s staff, makes the purchasing experience more engaging for both the customer and the trainees.
“You're seeing the same people over and over again,” she says. “We find our staff know as soon as someone walks up - if they're a regular - exactly what they're coffee is. It becomes quite a personalised experience.”
Having a large group of employees within such close quarters of the café also helps the young people with their work experience.
“We need a level of support from the building’s staff to be using the café. We need to sell close to 300 coffees a day to provide enough activity to train someone,” Elise says.
Good thing Melbournians love coffee!
Trainees completing STREAT’s six month intensive program will spend two shifts a week at one of STREAT’s cafés. Elise says a strong rapport is built within the office environment over that time and corporate staff often ask about the trainees once they graduate.
“STREAT is very deliberately a pathway organisation so after a trainee completes the program we support them get into open employment or further study,” she says – adding they always follow up with their graduates to see how they are doing afterwards.
People, planet, performance
Sharing common values, such as sustainability, also helps drive a strong relationship between STREAT and a corporate partner.
“STREAT is very much about people, planet and performance and the planet is very important to us. So everything we do, we put a planet focus on it,” explains Elise.
At ANZ’s new café, STREAT will not be offering take-away cups. Instead staff will be encouraged to bring a reusable coffee cup or take part in the cup-share cupboard system.
“ANZ is very big in the sustainability space as well. Finding partners who have shared values is really important to us,” Elise says.
Learn more about the young people you can help by purchasing your next coffee from STREAT here.
Caryn Kakas is Head of Housing Strategy at ANZ