Jeff Smith: recruit homeless people to work in his new café
Some social companies like café staff homeless people to help them get back on track. What really needs to happen to deal with the problem in Cardiff?
It is a very busy moment for Jeff Smith. He is occupied with decorating his new coffee shop without a stop. The café (@bigmoosetweets) is planned to open on the first day of March.Jeff has an idea as he decided to open a café – hiring homeless people to help them get back on track.
He said: “I think what we are trying to do is changing one (homeless) person life to start with. Our plan is to get the first person on board, make him work and make him successful and then we expand and we get another and another person.”
He tries his best to help homeless people. The whole principle of his coffee shop is to give everyone a hope. Jeff wants to do give those who are full of hard time, becoming homeless and struggling hopes, providing them with dignity and love. He hopes to get them back into the society, becoming a part of society again.
In this cold season, walking on the Queen street, you can find a quite few people sitting in the corner, cuddling in their coats or the quilt. In the recent report, the number of rough sleepers has risen 36 percent in the past year.
Jeff and his daughter have been volunteers to help homeless people for couple of years. They have participated an event called the rainbow run, which was an evening drop in.
Every night, they provided some food and hot drink at the back of Marks and Spencer for homeless people. And they also put some hairdressers on the street once a month so that they can cut homeless people’s hair and time their beards, refreshing them.
“We learnt a lot from them. Being homeless is something that doesn’t often happen,” said Jeff. Jeff thinks the volunteer work is a good chance for people to have a talk with this group and get close to them.
The volunteer experiences encouraged Jeff to do more on declining the homelessness. Therefore, he decided to open a coffee shop. He hopes to provide secure jobs for homeless persons to improve their life step by step.
“We hope to give one person to integrate in the business, training, giving food and beverage and giving him a qualification. It is not just about working with the coffee shop but also about providing other helps such as opening a bank account, paying a rent and setting things happen, just basically helping them with day by day,” said Jeff.
“Homelessness is a complex issue, and it is more than just a housing issue,” said Hannah Leitch, marketing and communication officer of Llamau, which is local charity to help homeless female and youngsters.
She explains that a lack of employment opportunities is one of many inter-connected issues which can lead to a young person becoming homeless. Those who have experiences in homelessness are likely to find it harder to get secure jobs than their peers.
“Providing young homeless people greater access to employment, and support to develop their skills and confidence, is essential to ensuring young people who have experienced homelessness to be able to move forward into independent lives,” said Hannah.
Now Jeff is cooperating with Llamau and he will find more local homeless charity to work together to fight for this phenomenon. This is just the beginning for Jeff.
Jeff said he wants to be very careful not to run quickly or not to make many mistakes. Therefore he is very focusing on the first person who would like to come into his business.
“And hopefully what we do is that we can work on a bigger picture with the council which is something working on separately with regarding to an actual store for improving homeless people’s life and stopping homelessness.”
The project is not rose all the way. The decoration of Jeff’s café started late last year. However, there were a stumbling block because some problems happened on his main contract and main builders who were unable to commit his café.
“I wouldn’t call them problems but I would call them obstacles,” said Jeff. His voice is peaceful but firm.
Luckily, lots of people come along to help Jeff and volunteers donate his coffee house financially. “It becomes a community project. It was fantastic that seven people gave him the funding and also some people in the volunteer provided the expertise. ” he said.
Also, Jeff told that his wife and two daughters have been supporting very much. The project tightens a whole family to work together.
These days, Jeff is busy in preparing the opening of his café. The decoration is almost done. When asking him the last question – what is the meaning of his café’s name. He said: “It’s very much. One of my best friends passed away from cancer. And his name is moose. So we create a legacy for him. That’s the purpose of the name.”