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COVID-19 RESPONSE

Well Grounded Transforming lives through coffee

Well Grounded is an award-winning social enterprise, launched in 2016 to support unemployed people with the skills and opportunities they need to thrive in work in the coffee industry. The team have already supported 663 individuals; with 365 gaining accreditation and 296 having moved into sustained education, training or employment outcomes.

Well Grounded’s vision is a society where people are thriving socially and economically in a diverse, dynamic and nurturing coffee community. Well Grounded’s programmes aim to empower individuals with the skills to flourish in life, covering technical coffee and hospitality qualifications, employability skills and access to sustainable job opportunities.

With support from the Foundation, in 2019 Well Grounded launched its second London training academy in Kings Cross. This expansion has led to increased social impact, as well as allowing the team to grow new income streams in order to build sustainability. The new academy also enabled the delivery of higher-level training for Graduates, offering further development to help individuals progress in their careers, as well as to roll out training programmes and facilities for the wider coffee community and public.

“I have a Moderate Learning Disability on the Autistic Spectrum and have struggled to find employment ...Then Well Grounded came along, believed in me and gave me the opportunity to succeed.” Zak, Well Grounded Graduate.

Zak joined the Well Grounded Traineeship in 2017, having tried many different training programmes that didn’t lead to a job. As part of the programme he completed a paid work placement with an employer partner who supported his development from a barista to assistant supervisor at The Shard. Today, 4.5 years on, he works as Lead Barista & Training Coordinator at Brew Bar - a cafe at University College London.

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit has been wide-reaching and complex, particularly on mental health and physical wellbeing. Whilst unemployment is low, the decline in welfare services is exasperating the situation. Today, more people are at greater risk of long-term unemployment, with those classified as ‘long-term’ unemployed up 35%[1] – the highest ever. Due to these contributing factors there has been an exodus of talent from the coffee industry. The race to find local talent has never been tougher. At the same time, Well Grounded trainees are presenting with an increase in mental health and physical wellbeing needs which is resulting in more intensive mentorship and job coaching support, as well as more extensive work with external agencies given widespread changes to local services and personnel.

In order to holistically meet the needs of trainees, and to ensure their entry and successful progression in work, the Foundation supported Well Grounded further towards hiring an Engagement and Progression Coach. This individual will go out into the community, engaging and working with partners and potential trainees, alongside supporting trainees into successful job outcomes whilst offering mentorship and pastoral care.

Going forward, Well Grounded will continue to work with 80 individuals a year, with at least 70% moving into work, training and education outcomes, as well as supporting a growing graduate network to ensure they sustain and progress in work. In addition, the team aim to design a replicable model that can be implemented across the UK in cities with high levels of unemployment.

[1] IES Labour Market Statistics, 2022