Updated: Feb 23
Brewbird – A café that makes a difference
Brewbird is a café that makes a difference – all employees in Brewbird use St Giles’s services and have typically been held back by poverty, dealing with addiction or mental health problems, getting caught up in crime or a combination of these issues and others. Brewbird gives them a stepping stone to gain confidence, skills and experience.
We sat down with Laurie McGeoghegan, who has been managing BrewBird café for 3 years, to find out more about this social enterprise.
Aidan perfecting his latte art skills
Tell us more about Brew Bird
We are the social enterprise arm of St. Giles, we offer supported paid work to clients of St. Giles. Our 12-week training programme is designed to progress trainees each week - we start by showing them how to serve food and drinks to customers, then we move on to making teas, coffees and food and using the till. Whilst the trainees are with us they continue to be supported by their St. Giles case worker. At the end of the training programme trainees work with their case worker to find other employment.
Not only is this a nice place to sit and have a coffee but you are actually helping vulnerable people when you buy from us.
In autumn 2019 we started using FareShare to source our ingredients which means that 90% of our food would have otherwise gone to the bin. Our menu changes each week depending on what ingredients we get in, which helps our trainees learn how to prepare different ingredients – many of which they might not have seen before.
Aidan – A Brewbird trainee
Peer support is an important part of the support that St. Giles and Brewbird offer. We have trainees with various experience working with us; Old trainees often come back to work on private events like weddings and the recruitment of trainees means that more experienced peers work with new trainees.
How did you come to work at Brewbird?
When I finished college, 3 or 4 years ago, I was in a space where I wasn’t sure where to go, what I wanted to do – I felt a bit lost.
My mum got in contact with St. Giles and set up a meeting. At first, I didn’t want to go and I was quite apprehensive because I can feel a bit awkward and shy when I first meet someone.
My case worker helped me find media experience, rework my CV and find vacancies. Following the media course I was still a bit perplexed on where I wanted to go and what avenue I wanted to go down. I have always liked children and working with young people, so they helped me find a job at a nursery, but it wasn’t a supportive environment and I was getting really overwhelmed.
I left that opportunity, again I felt as lost as before. Then my case worker told me about the opportunity at Brewbird. At first I thought it was going to be a greasy spoon and I would be overworked. But when I got here I realised it is really nice, everyone is kind and other trainees encourage each other to reach their goals. Brewbird has really helped me build my confidence and self-esteem.
What’s your favourite drink to make?
Latte because I can get the milk right, it’s the easiest one. So I can spend more time on the latte art!
What does the future hold?
At the end of this month I will be leaving here to do a barista foundation course, some volunteer mentoring and finish my driving test.
I have always wanted to do youth work or mentoring. I like children a lot, I always knew that I wanted to help children with their development. I think children, in their purest form, can be moulded to be a positive influence on the world, even if they have had some hard issues.
So yeah, I think things are looking good for the future.
If you want to help someone get that second chance whilst drinking your latte then head to
Brewbird: 29 Peckham Rd, Camberwell, London SE5 8UA. 020 7701 5234.
FB & Twitter: @Brewbirdco
If you feel that St. Giles Trust could support you visit them or give them a call:
020 7708 8000