Plans to open a charitable coffee shop will provide employment to disadvantaged young people
Karl Considine didn’t have the easiest of childhoods. A disruptive home life meant he left high school before taking his GCSEs and found employment opportunities severely limited. After a period of working abroad, he eventually landed a job in recruitment before finding his current role in HR - but the barriers he faced due to a lack of formal education meant it was a steep uphill struggle.
Now with a portfolio of employment behind him, jobs are undoubtedly easier to attain - as they say, it’s always easier to get a job when you have one - but Considine knows that many aren’t so lucky in getting a foot in the door.
There are currently over 800,000 16-24 year-olds in the UK who are NEET (not in education, employment or training), often leading to problems such as homelessness and crime. In the North West, the figure is around 100,000; an alarming 12% of adolescents lacking direction.
That’s why Considine is aiming to turn his corporate background into something ‘more meaningful,’ with an enterprising Manchester-based coffee shop called Wendy House; named after his grandma, who found him work experience and gave him the motivation to succeed.
The concept is a simple but powerful one: working with relevant organisations to recruit disadvantaged young people and give them employment, not to mention vital social skills, a sense of belonging and the experience needed for future job-seeking.
Considine expects the first Wendy House to be around the trendy Northern Quarter/Ancoats area
While it’s very much still in the planning stages, Considine is confident, hoping that eventually Wendy House will be rolled out across Manchester, the North West and even further afield.
“I’ve just been accepted onto NatWest’s Entrepreneurial Spark start-up programme, which helps start-up companies source investment opportunities, and will hopefully launch a crowdfunding campaign in a couple of months. With enough funding, we’ll open a shop this summer, and if that’s successful the plan is to have a chain of Wendy Houses. Maybe it could even be a franchise, but the focus is on helping as many people as possible.”
Venue-wise, Considine expects the first Wendy House to be around the Northern Quarter/Ancoats area. He's still scouting out spots but envisages a sizeable space which can accommodate up to 70 people.
“I want it to be somewhere people can while away the hours and relax. I love coffee shops which have that kind of environment. And the idea is to employ five to six people; you can’t make as much of a difference with a small venue.”
The ethical aspect will also extend to Wendy House products. Considine tells us that a lot of corporations pay such a pittance that farmers in source countries often can’t afford to live. Wendy House will only stock sustainable items; with the menu initially concentrating on ‘properly prepared’ speciality coffees, cakes and desserts.
Similar, then, to a lot of other coffee shops, but it’s not often you get a slice of philanthropy with your hot beverage. Wendy House’s USP is undoubtedly its social conscience, something that we arguably need now more than ever.