Social Bite, a chain of cafés in Scotland, recently entered the media spotlight when the actor George Clooney paid a visit to show his support for their activities, which include helping the homeless. Earlier in 2015 Russell Brand gained media attention when he established the Trew Era café in Hackney to support recovering drug addicts in the area using the profits from his book, Revolution. These are not just normal cafés, they are social enterprise cafés. What does this mean? Put simply, it means they are cafés that are designed to address social issues, and work on a different business model where any profit made is reinvested into the local community, or the business itself to expand services provided, or to other charitable causes.
According to Social Enterprise UK:
“Social enterprises are businesses that trade to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment. They make their money from selling goods and services in the open market, but they reinvest their profits back into the business or the local community or other charitable causes. And so when they profit, society profits.”
There have been a growing number of social enterprise cafés in the UK over recent years attempting to address a range of social issues, from Paper & Cup providing barista training to the long term unemployed in London, to Milk, providing support for ethnic minority women who live in Glasgow, and Café Artysans in Inverness providing skills training for young people.
The map below shows the locations of some of the UK’s social enterprise cafés.
My current research project ‘Spaces of Community‘ is exploring the varied ways in which cafés are used in different cities. The growing presence of social enterprise cafés demonstrates a range of ways that cafés in cities can have a different roles in communities, not only for the people that frequent them, but for the communities that some of these cafés are trying to support, and beyond. If you know of any other social enterprise cafés, then please do get in touch.