Brewbird: Peckham, Coffee and Second Chances

By Contributor | Wednesday 22nd February, 2017

On a quiet street, housed in a charming Georgian building, is one of Peckham’s best kept secrets – Brewbird café. At first glance, Brewbrid looks like any other up-and-coming indie cafe in London. But behind the plethora of irresistible cakes and artisan coffee, it couldn’t be more different! Brewbird’s slogan? Serving coffee and second chances!

At Brewbird, it’s not about the profit…

Unlike most hospitality enterprises, Brewbird didn’t come about with the idea to make profit. Instead, what spurred the coffee shop into existence was one charity’s relentless effort to help ex-offenders and socially excluded people back onto the employment horse! That’s why St Giles Trust started Brewbird – as a way of offering people a step up by teaching them employments skills whilst giving them the moral support. As a coffee aficionado and a freelance writer who spends half her life hanging around cafes typing away fiercely (on a good day) and drinking gallons of coffee (everyday) I jumped at the opportunity to check out Brewbird and experience it in all of its socially conscientious glory!

That Brewbird stands out from other cafes becomes apparent as soon as you walk in. Unlike most coffee shops, there isn’t a single feature in Brewbird’s interior that encourages hiding away in the corner, recluse-style. Laid-back, furnished with an earthy urban flair, it is the perfect friends hangout or family-catch-up spot! And on this buzzing Saturday the café is full! Amongst the ambience of carefree chatter, clinking of cutlery, coffee cups and saucers, the community spirit of Brewbird is thick in the air! We sit down for a cup of coffee (one of the best I’ve ever had) and a bacon sandwich (a proper one, homemade, made with real good bread and juicy bacon) to chat with David, Brewbird’s Operations Manager, so he can boast about this wonderful venture that St Giles have created!

It’s about second chances…

Judgement free” and “second chances” are the words that stick out the most. There’s a girl in her 20s who’s working at the café that day. She tells us that she’s been there 8 months and flashes us a huge warm smile; she seems to be enjoying the experience. “It’s not always the case,” David says. Many of the people who St Giles employ at Brewbird have a lot to contend with in the first few weeks. They are given barista and bakers training, as well as customer service experience – a confidence-boost recipe. Most importantly, in the meantime, they are encouraged and supported by St Giles to address all the basic logistics involved in finding your feet after. St Giles Trust’s head office is a stone’s throw away and there’s a mental health charity and a homelessness charity a few minutes away, too. So should any of the “trainees”, as David calls them, need support it’s there for the taking!

… and building people up…

Brewbird is probably the only hospitality business happy to see its staff move on! Therefore, from day one they are encouraged to learn and build their self-esteem. With this, they can take matters into their own hands, start job hunting and find employment out in the real world. (Hence the word trainees.)
At Brewbird, trainees find understanding and flexibility which they may not receive from an employer who is not familiar or concerned with their background: this is why their time at Brewbird is so important! Alongside a great CV-boost, working at Brewbird is a continuous reminder that employment implies discipline, commitment and order.
St Giles Trust’s mission to help their trainees get back on their feet seems to be going according to plan! And not only are they making a difference in their lives but they’re also treating our taste buds to incredible homemade meals and cakes and coffee that would impress even the most hard-core coffee snobs!

… And it’s about removing the stigma

If that’s not enough, having this coffee shop in the thick of a South East London community “breaks the stigma and challenges people’s perceptions”, adds David. So, next time you’re out in Peckham, or Shoreditch, where Brewbird have recently opened their second site, pop in for a hot beverage and a meal. You won’t be disappointment! It deserves your hard-earned dollars and will fill both your tummy and your heart!

Planning on visiting Brewbird? Check out Loot and see how we can help you budget, save and spend your dollar. More coffee anyone?