Canberra PCYC’s Cruisin’ Cafe is a social enterprise designed to give vulnerable young people supported employment opportunities. Often, vulnerable young people have low social capital, which leads to low employability qualities and (without some form of intervention) can lead to long-term un-employment and generational poverty. The Canberra PCYC Cruisin’ Cafe program trains young people in hospitality, helps participants acquire hospitality qualifications, and employs participants in meaningful work, all while supporting participants manage other co-morbidities through case management.
Canberra PCYC has used seed funding to grow a sustainable program and business. Rather than relying on ongoing funding from government or philanthropic funds, the Canberra PCYC Criusin’ Cafe is a self-sustaining program, utilising profits from cafe sales to go back into perpetuating the employment program.
The Cruisin’ Cafe was born out of a gap analysis based on employment of vulnerable young people. Canberra PCYC had participants complete other 6-month personal development programs where they gained self-esteem, self-belief and gained employment in the private sector. However, participants often could not maintain their employment when PCYC support ended, putting them back into a cycle of poverty, homelessness, self- disbelief and reliance on welfare. The Cruisin’ Cafe allows young people to gain meaningful skills, earn money, increase their social capital and their financial capital while staying supported and connected to an agency that understands crisis and participants can continue to work on other co-morbidities. Cruisin’ Cafe works with Salvation Army Employment Plus Program and a number of local and regional businesses to ensure there is sufficient training and opportunities to run the cafes. To date, the young people who have been on the program have all been able to increase social capital with a proven increase in internal and external assets, an increase in financial capital, and they have been supported to keep their jobs while being mentored through crises dealing with health issues, mental health issues, housing breakdowns, high conflict, and drug and alcohol misuse.