These are challenging times at Change Please, although obviously we are not alone in this. Our business has been built on people enjoying coffee away from home, the profit from which we use to help people experiencing homelessness back into employment and secure housing. I am pretty sure that the vast majority of people reading this will be at home and won’t have bought a coffee out of the house for many days or even weeks. This is understandable and needed to keep us all safe but it is also very difficult for a coffee company that relies on customer footfall to change the lives of people experiencing homelessness.
A drop in revenue of the speed and proportion that the hospitality industry has seen over the past two weeks can only have a negative impact on any business. At Change Please our primary focus is our people and their wellbeing; we have 35 vulnerable people that we are supporting through this crisis. All of these people were, until relatively recently, experiencing homelessness and we are determined to make sure that these talented and driven people do not once again find themselves without safe, secure accommodation.
Consequently, our team has been working incredibly hard to secure public and private support, in addition to Change Please funds, to enable our trainees and graduates to continue to have an income and a place to call home. Some of these graduates may have moved on and have been working for other businesses but as part of our ongoing commitment to them we continue to be here as their safety net. Where possible they have been “furloughed” and if they don’t qualify then we are helping with Universal Credit and Housing Benefit applications and supporting them as much as we can through this time. We are determined to make sure they do not fall through the cracks.
We are doing everything we can to protect our business and provide for our wonderful customers, current and future. Clearly, we cannot continue with our “normal” cost base in these times so we are making full use of the government furlough scheme. This means that for the foreseeable future we will be running with a reduced team. It has been very hard to have these conversations with the team, many of whom just wanted to keep working regardless of pay, a true testament to the dedication of the brilliant people we employ at Change Please.
This situation is a huge setback in what was such an exciting year of growth and impact for Change Please but we are by no means giving up. We are using the time until we begin to trade normally again to service the customers that are still operating and also to prepare for our next phase of growth. Change Please has a lot more work to do in this world and sadly I feel our support model for people affected by homelessness will be even more in demand once we come through this terrible time.
We are still here and very much open for business. We will continue to work hard to ensure we come out of this fitter, stronger and in an even better place to support some of the UK’s most in need.
Thank you for your ongoing support.