Cafe from Crisis celebrates its 12th Anniversay

A social enterprise designed to transform the lives of homeless people and ex-offenders

While professional staff spearhead the Cafe’s kitchen and front of house operations they are closely assisted by trainees – homeless people and ex-offenders – participating in a 12-16-week training programme designed to provide them with a route into work. Trainees learn hospitality skills from cooking to front of house management and barista training in the cafe which is open to the public.

Under the guidance of experienced cafe manager, Jeremy Wood, they can receive further training for recognised qualifications in food hygiene and barista skills, as well as become competent at IT, interview techniques and job search skills.

Café from Crisis sees around 50 trainees join its programme every year with 30 being placed into employment at the end of their training. Since opening in 2004 the Café has supported over 250 trainees into employment. Trainees have gone on to find full-time work in the industry at companies including Baxterstorey, Adam & Eve Pubs, Pizza Union and Dehesa.

Trainee Case Study

Started shifts in the café days after release from prison to get into a routine, learn new skills, develop confidence and ultimately get a job to support a young family. Worked as a front of house trainee.

He says: “The first day I worked at Cafe from Crisis I was really nervous because I wasn’t used to meeting people and didn’t feel sure about how to interact with them. Even though the kitchen was the easy option for me, as I’d done a bit of kitchen work before, my goal was to push myself, get out in front of people and learn customer service skills to try and build my confidence so I asked to go front of house. Each day was a journey for me. I was always angry before but now I’ve learned to smile and greet people. It’s great to be able to carry a tray of 3 or 4 teas and not be terrified which I was at first. I’ve never had a breakage. Most of all It’s been amazing learning how to use the till – that would definitely be my favourite moment. Being here feels like I’m part of something; I just want to keep learning more.”

The Trainee is now in full-time employment at a leading London restaurant.

Cafe from Crisis Background

After 12 years, Cafe from Crisis has become the recognised leader in the Food Social Enterprise space and key advisor for other similar enterprises and start-ups.

Cafe from Crisis Manager, Jeremy Wood says: “We opened our doors 12 years ago to help homeless people and ex-offenders get into work. But the need for our assistance is as great now as it was back then. We are here to transform lives through our hospitality training programme and help people go on to lead full working lives. Partnering with multiple hospitality businesses around London we help trainees at the end of their period with us into full-time jobs. The greatest change we’re seeing though is the emergence of other food social enterprises popping up around the country, and we are delighted to find, as market leader and one of the longest-standing food social enterprises in the field, we have become something of a go-to for start-ups looking for pointers. In response to this demand for guidance, we co-hosted a Food Social Enterprise evening in February 2016 with 60 delegates from across London in attendance. We held workshops, networking sessions and basically created a forum within which we could share best practice from over a decade of experience. So now we do two things: we primarily help people train for the workplace but we also support and guide other businesses wanting to give something back in the way we have been for over a decade.”

The Menu

The daily changing menu makes the most of local, seasonal ingredients, wherever possible, and suppliers include Hackney based baker The Dusty Knuckle, Spitafield’s social enterprise Rise Bakery, Watts Farm Kent, and pork from Dingley Dell Suffolk.


Cafe from Crisis is a finalist in the Urban Food Awards due to be judged in September 2016

Fact Box

Cafe from Crisis, 64 Commercial Street, London, E1 6LT
Opening times: Monday – Friday 8am to 3pm