Meetthis week’s LDNER, 21 years old Julius. When he moved to London he was shocked about how many homeless people there are and became passionate about finding a solution. Second Shot is a coffee shop that works with the homeless community and gives them a better a life. In Julius’ own words, Second Shot coffee is ‘bringing people together by tackling homelessness one espresso at a time’…
Where do you live in London and what do you love about that area?
I’m currently living in Whitechapel. I love that the area is constantly changing and improving and you’ve got such a mix of different people. There’s so much in the local areas as well with different markets and great little businesses popping up, and It’s only a short walk over to Shoreditch, or to Bethnal Green, which is obviously really handy for me now as well!
Tell us a bit about Second Shot, how was it born?
It all started when I first moved to London for university in September 2013. Almost immediately, I was really shocked at the levels of homelessness, and particularly around Bloomsbury, the sheer amount of rough sleeping. So this got me really interested in learning about different solutions to social problems, and social enterprises as a sustainable model for change. I went on to consult other social enterprises and charities on how to survive and grow but over time became frustrated that I wasn’t able to have a direct impact, so I started thinking about solutions that I could come up with and execute well.
For the impact to be successful, the underlying business also needs to work, so I began speaking to experts on homelessness in London from Shelter, Crisis, and The Connection at St-Martin-in-the-Fields, about what a really effective solution looks like, and tweaking my concept bit by bit. It was clear to me that in order to have a big impact, the solution needed change that way that people viewed homelessness, and social enterprise as a whole. Over time this grew into Second Shot Coffee; a café bringing people together by tackling homelessness one espresso at a time.
You want to change perceptions on homelessness, why did you decide to do it with a coffee shop?
There’s a couple of reasons that a coffee shop is a really powerful platform to change perceptions on homelessness from. Firstly through product; Londoners really know their coffee, and increasingly only want to go to places that can offer then consistently great product. However there is still a misconception that people in some way actively choose to become homeless when the reality is that homelessness is something that happens to people, and people that find themselves in that situation really are victims of circumstance. What’s great about Second Shot it that people can contribute toward something more, just through buying their daily coffee. But more than that, they’ll be receiving some of the best coffee London has to offer, made by individuals who not too long ago were homeless. By doing this we can really show that all people are capable of incredible things given the right opportunity and that all people are deserving of that opportunity.
Secondly, coffee shops are really social places. Being able to create an open and relaxed atmosphere enables our baristas to develop relationships with our loyal customers really breaks down that usual barrier that exists, and challenge the us and them mentality that still exists when people think about homelessness. Finally, everyone has the desire to do good work and to help others; it’s in our human nature. Through our initiatives like the Pay It Forward Wall, we’re giving customers the opportunity to physically and directly help others, and giving them the opportunity again to break the social norm, and to interact with different people.
Does living in London inspire you in the work you do and why?
I think what’s most inspiring to me, is meeting people who have been affected by homelessness, and the unbelievably difficult situations that they’ve been faced with, and being able to witness their perseverance and determination to create a better life for themselves. With London it’s so easy to fall on tough times; the average person in the UK is only 2 pay checks away from becoming homeless. And in London with such a shortage of affordable housing, it’s so easy. And once you do slip in to that situation, it’s then so difficult to get out, so being able to be a part of that journey gives me inspiration every day.
Finally, what would your perfect day in London be?
I think at the moment, my perfect day would be in the middle of summer, just being able walk down to Second Shot and sit outside with a V60 and be able to just witness café running smoothly, and customers having fun and sitting outside enjoying the sun!