Digbeth social enterprise full of beans with second venture
Evolve launched last year to provide young people with training and job opportunities, helping them out of difficult situations surrounding addiction and mental health. Located at the old Adam & Eve pub in Digbeth, the café is the first social enterprise by addiction charity Aquarius and, following a successful six months in the city, a second location will be opening next Monday (30 April.)
Priding itself on serving premium independent coffee and a fresh, honest menu prepared on site, ‘Evolve 2’ will be launching on Pershore Road on 30 April. Located close to Cannon Hill Park and the new Pebble Mill development site, the ‘grab-and-go’ coffee shop will offer sandwiches, cakes, wraps and soups.
Evolve’s talented young workforce is key to its mission and they work closely with Talent Match Birmingham and Solihull, a pre-employment programme that helps 18-24 year olds develop the skills they need to secure employment.
Kate Hemming, a senior practitioner at Aquarius and the project lead for Evolve, comments:
“I can’t believe that we’re already opening our second coffee shop – it’s such an achievement, not just for Aquarius but the young people who make Evolve what it is. Our team of young people have worked really hard to make the social enterprise a success – they’re dedicated to providing a quality service to our customers and really passionate about making a difference to the local community.
With the help of our training and mentoring programme they’ve been able to deal with difficulties such as mental ill heath, homelessness and substance misuse, which have previously been barriers into the workplace. The opportunities at Evolve have helped young people to build on their confidence and gain new skills and experiences that will ensure they are able to be successful in the future.
“Their dedication has already proved fruitful as all profits from the first Evolve have been re-invested back into the business, which has meant that we’re in a position to open Evolve 2, with more locations planned as we continue to grow.”
Joseph Allen, Talent Match Birmingham & Solihull Programme Coordinator, said:
“We know youth unemployment is an on-going issue in Birmingham and Solihull, which is why our programme is committed to providing sustainable opportunities for young people. Through our skills workshops and training, one-to-one coaching as well as in-work support, we continue to break down barriers to employment – benefiting the young person, but also employers like Evolve, whose on-going support is invaluable to tackling the issue.”
Evolve’s ethos of supporting the local community goes beyond employment and sits at the heart of the story. Following the closure of Digbeth’s troubled Adam & Eve pub, New Leaf Living and Spring Housing partnered to develop and manage accommodation to help people at risk of homelessness. With new homes created in the building, the concept of Evolve was born to create a lasting legacy for a location that had a long history of trouble.
Dominic Bradley, from Spring Housing and Gregg Reed, from New Leaf Living, added:
“We had been looking at how we could use an asset to not only accommodate those in housing need but also generate space that can be used to offer genuine employment in a different way for some time, and after a long and fruitless search the Adam and Eve popped up on the auction list!
“Our intention was always to provide a sustainable solution for reducing homelessness and not just good quality accommodation. For us this means giving people supported living accommodation and the opportunity to learn new skills in a commercial environment in order to gain long term employment.”
New Leaf Living was also able to offer Evolve a sustained rent-free period to give the business a head start, and the results speak for themselves especially with the announcement of Evolve 2.
Helping the local community is what Evolve is all about and, in addition to the coffee shop, they have a multi-purpose event space that can be used for meetings, events, and celebrations. Every Friday, the team hosts ‘The Bigger Picture’, inviting elderly people from the local community to join each other for lunch and a film screening.
“Coffee with a conscience is what we live for… we want to make a difference to young people struggling to get work, whilst having a positive impact on the community. All whilst serving up delicious food and drink in a place that you want to go back to time and time again. I am excited for Evolve 2 to open its doors in a new community, and we want to continue this success by popping up in more communities and offering even more job opportunities,” Kate concluded.