Well Grounded has partnerships with more than 40 employers, from specialist coffee shops and small independents to bigger chains and suppliers

It’s Wednesday morning in Poplar, East London, and Sophia Bayram and Natasha Ward are dialling in a coffee grinder. That’s barista-speak for measuring the grind and weight of the beans to get a perfectly balanced shot of coffee.

They swap stories about their lives as they work: this week Sophia, aged 29, has left her daughter at nursery for the first time to come and learn how to make coffee. She dreams of opening a coffee shop for parents and babies in Poplar.

Meanwhile, Natasha, 23, is retraining after working as a mental health nurse in Essex. She has a work placement at a coffee shop starting soon and has been putting in extra hours practising steaming milk.

“I’ve only been here three days and I’m so happy,” she says. “I used to feel panicked in the morning before work, worrying what would happen if I did something bad, what people would think about me.”

Sophia also suffered from crippling mental health problems and tough mornings on the commute to her former job as a sale assistant at Canary Wharf. “I was panicking and getting breathless,” she says. “But coming here has helped my anxieties. You don’t feel unequal, you feel like everyone is a family.”

This is Well Grounded, a speciality coffee training academy helping people find work. It was started by Eve Wagg in 2016 as a community interest company, which means all profits go towards the core aim of helping people find work. Natasha and Sophia are on the fourth eight-week training programme, taking the total number of people trained to 126 – and the number of people in work to 44.

To read the rest of this article, please visit: Well Grounded: the social enterprise helping unemployed people find work in the coffee industry

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