Around 1,000 years ago, well-respected philosopher Maimonides stated that the best form of charity was to create a job. Flash forward to 2020, and there are a number of ethically-minded start-ups doing exactly that, and succeeding.
These aren't charities, they're businesses. Pretty great ones, as it happens. They're prioritising vulnerable members of our society, be it prisoners, refugees, or marginalised ethic-minority women. Whether you're looking for a coffee, a bunch of flowers or a new bra, we'd encourage you to give them a go!
What was the inspiration behind this coffee brand? Well, prisoners are 50% less likely to reoffend if they have skills and a job, but only 1/3 manage to find work within two years of being released. A dilemma that co-founders knew they could crack. All the coffee is roasted by inmates at Aylesbury Prison, and Redemption Roasters not only provides prisoners with training and work while they are behind bars, it also helps them find a job when they get out. Redemption Roasters now has five thriving coffee shops, a training centre, a roaster and seven barista training academies within prisons. Long may it continue - the more sites, the more employment opportunities they're creating.
Bread and Roses
This social enterprise florist has the ethos of helping refugee women to flourish. In the process of learning how to be wonderful florists, Bread and Roses provides women with the space to learn English, develop skills and build their confidence. Where possible all of this helps women on their pathway to fulfilling employment rather than being lost with no support (it's no secret that support for refugees is in short supply in the UK), or being forced to take up very low-paid jobs in the cleaning or care sectors.
Behind Bras is a social enterprises helping to reform, and improve the opportunities for ex female offenders once they leave the prison system. How, you ask? By training women in fashion, retail and creative jobs whilst empowering women to remember the positive in themselves. Founder, Barbara Burton, picked lingerie because it brings confidence, strength and empowerment, it's the closest we have to skin, and the first thing we put on in the morning. Making ex-offenders feel beautiful, loved and skilled are three hugely important factors in preventing reoffending, whilst being employed drastically improves changes of not reoffending again and going back into the criminal justice system.