New cafe aims to tackle youth homelessness

Since it opened in early May, the For Change, Middle Park cafe has been delighting customers with its plant-based menu and unique location – the space was formerly a tram stop!

This cafe will also provide hospitality training and entry-level employment to young people who are either homeless or at risk of it. 

For Change, Middle Park is the brainchild of For Change Co., a social enterprise that operates a total of five hospitality venues around Melbourne. 

Their goal is to empower young people (aged 16-24) to escape the homelessness cycle by providing them with support, skill-building and employment opportunities. 

“Each time someone buys a coffee, each time someone buys lunch with us, they’re contributing towards what we do,” said Tenille Gilbert, the Co-Founder & Managing Director of For Change Co. “100% of our profits goes back into our work.” 

Since For Change Co. launched in 2015, they have helped to steer 48 young people away from homelessness and into gainful employment or education. 

Here’s what one For Change Co. client had to say: “For Change Co. can change everything. Without it, I wouldn’t have the financial power to pursue training courses and upskill the way I have at the cafe. The program is supporting me to live independently through uni and pursue entry into a Doctor of Medicine at Melbourne Uni.” 

“That’s only feasible because of my new hospitality job prospects,” the client said.   

Ms Gilbert hopes to start training and employing at-risk young people at For Change, Middle Park in the coming months. 

She’s also optimistic that since it’s their largest venue to date, even more young people will benefit from it. 

And how did For Change Co. manage to land such a unique location as a disused tram stop? 

“We were approached by Yarra Trams and they had this particular space which they really wanted to activate and use again. A social enterprise cafe was a really good fit,” Ms Gilbert said. 

“Yarra Trams is proud to be partnering with For Change Co. to help them realise their inspiring social enterprise in Middle Park. I’m looking forward to many ‘coffees for a cause’ from For Change Co. in the coming months and years,” said Yarra Trams CEO, Julien Dehornoy, in a statement.

For Change Co.’s vision is “an Australia free from youth homelessness” and it’s clear that they’re making very real progress in achieving that, one coffee and breakfast at a time. 

More information about For Change, Middle Park can be found here:  https://forchangeco.com.au/middle-park/

To learn more about For Change Co., please visit: https://forchangeco.com.au

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Markos Hasiotis

Markos Hasiotis is a writer and researcher based in Melbourne. He has written content for outlets around the world and volunteered for a variety of causes, including mental health, the environment, animal welfare and Meals on Wheels. His main passion is sharing facts and fighting against the forces of propaganda and misinformation.

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