the coffee shop that trains homeless people to be baristas… in a tube station

As you walk down Tottenham Court Road, you will come across one of London’s most unmistakable symbols: a tube station. The Leslie Green classic features oxblood terracotta brick.

However, outside the Goodge Street station, you will notice a table and two chairs, with a small window through which you can see the Change Please project.

An estimated 25,000 people get into and out of Goodge Street on weekdays. Granted, most of them don’t pay much attention to Change Please.

The food joint is only a few square meters wide, which goes to show how valuable space has become in London.

However, a commuter gets from the line to order a coffee, and soon enough, another one follows. From the look of things, quite many people know about this place.

the coffee shop that trains homeless people to be baristas… in a tube station

I’m Happy, I’m Working Full-Time

If anyone knows about service with a smile, it’s Marco Ocampo. All the Goodge Street regulars are well-known to him.

The tube workers wear bright red “Here to help” tabards.

It’s people like Marco Ocampo who make Change Please tick. The franchise consists of coffee shops throughout London.

They have been set up by FCB Inferno, Old Spike Roastery, and The Big Issue. Change Please gets its workers from the London homeless community to tackle the capital’s homelessness crisis.

Consequently, the company hires, trains and supports London’s homeless.

Marco himself was homeless, a situation that had a lot to do with a separation from his partner. Many years ago, he had moved to London from Colombia.

Unfortunately, he suddenly found himself without a place to live for several months. That caused him to suffer from depression.

Then he heard about a charity, Ace of Clubs, which is near Clapham Common. Ace of Clubs is a charity that supports the homeless, but Marco mainly attended for the hot lunches.

While there, he met a team from Change Please, and they offered him training as a barista. They also gave him a 40 hour-a-week job and helped him find accommodation.

On top of that, they offered to give him support and help him deal with his mental health. Marco is obviously quite appreciative of the help he has received from Change Please:

“Now I’m happy, I’m working full-time.”

the coffee shop that trains homeless people to be baristas… in a tube station

More Enterprises Of This Kind Are Necessary

Marco makes excellent coffee. He is very proud of Change Please, claiming that London needs more enterprises of this sort.

He is right: homelessness in the UK has doubled since the year 2010. Marco has not forgotten how challenging homelessness can be, and he gives free hot drinks to the homeless every day.

His rise at Change Please has been swift. Today, he trains other baristas.

About a year earlier, he was in their position. Marco is personable, which is what makes him perfect for the role.

He is training the baristas to make Change Please’s own coffee blend, which is sold in stores throughout the country.

On the packaging are former homeless baristas currently employed by the brand, along with their stories.

the coffee shop that trains homeless people to be baristas… in a tube station

As far as Marco is concerned, Change Please is uniquely special to him. “It’s family,” he declares.