Break launches Coffee Break van to boost job chances of young care leavers

26 Oct 2020

Break launches Coffee Break van to boost job chances of young care leavers

A mobile coffee van business, launched by Break in September 2020, is giving our young care leavers the chance to gain real work experience and new skills to improve their job chances.

Our new Coffee Break project supports young people who have either recently left or are about to leave the care system and live independently for the first time.  And it is helping our young people to learn new skills, boost their confidence and give them the best possible chances of securing jobs after leaving care.

Currently based in Norwich two days a week, the coffee van serves hot and cold drinks, sweet and savoury snacks, and is staffed and managed entirely by our young care leavers. All the young people involved are benefitting from some brilliant training and guidance from our project manager, Joe Walden, or ‘the coffee van man’ as we like to call him!

One young care leaver who been instrumental in the launch of the Coffee Break initiative is Jack Nicholls.

Jack moved into his own flat in 2017, and since then has received ongoing support from Break.  After grasping the chance to get involved in the Coffee Break project, Jack’s gone from feeling hopeless about finding a job to now working on the van part-time and enthusiastically applying for new opportunities.  

Joe Walden, our Enterprise and Youth Development Lead explains; “The world of work can seem scary and daunting for any 18 year old, but for someone leaving the care system, with no family support around them, it comes with lots of extra challenges.  The Coffee Break van means young care leavers can discover what they’re really capable of, by engaging them in ‘real’ work, offering training opportunities and the chance to learn new skills which they can take with them for life, all offered in a safe space.  If someone is late for work, or they make a mistake, we address it and we help them learn from it without destroying their confidence.  It’s all carried out in a supportive way, without the fear of potentially losing that job.”

Jack and a team of five other young people have kickstarted the project.  Mentored by Joe, they created a business plan, sourced suppliers, created the branding, designed the layout of the van and considered all the health and safety implications of launching a mobile catering business.  They have also completed barista and food hygiene training; skills and qualifications that can help them find work in the future.  

Joe adds; “The Coffee Break van is not just about serving lattes.  Our young people have gained real business skills that will benefit them for life.  Last summer, they joined forces with the UEA Business School to devise a business plan, assessing the project’s viability and costing it all up.  They drew up a bid for funding and presented their case to the Break board of trustees and corporate supporters.  In July, the funding was approved and by the end of August everything was set up and ready to go. These young people have essentially launched a business.  Something many of them thought they would never achieve. And it’s all been done during a global pandemic.”

The Coffee Break project is part of our Staying Connected services, offering vital support to care leavers, for as long as they need it. 

If you’d like to book the coffee van for your office or organisation, please contact

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