Refuge Coffee: How one church is combining great coffee with loving local refugees

Facebook / Refuge Coffee UKRefuge Coffee will officially launch in the next few weeks after a number of trial outings in Harrow.

'We have to be as creative as we can in loving our neighbours.'

That is the motto behind Refuge Coffee, a brand new initiative in Harrow, north London, that aims to help unaccompanied refugee minors by offering employment and job placements.

Emerging from Stanmore Baptist Church, project manager Matt Sprink said the idea came after the congregation found itself at the convergence of a Hindu faith school, two primary schools and a comprehensive.

The church wanted to do something that wasn't just 'within the walls of religious institutions', he tells Christian Today. With the high footfall of school runs and commuters passing the area, the idea of a coffee van was born.

Facebook / Refuge Coffee UKMatt Sprink said the project combined loving thy neighbour through providing coffee, as well as offering employment and in the future giving back to the local community.

'We really have a heart for the displaced and the alone,' he says. 

Refuge Coffee aims to employ unaccompanied minors who are refugees in the local area. Newly arrived asylum seekers often have difficulty gaining access to education but Sprink's idea is that working in the coffee van will help them gain full time employment, if they have a work permit, or help provide income alongside studies, if they do manage to find a place at college.

Although it's in its early stages, Sprink hopes that when the company is profitable it will be able to give some of its revenue back to different local projects at different times of year.

But more than that, the model is transferable. With the relatively low initial investment of the van and coffee making facilities, Sprink says there is no reason why it couldn't be used by local churches across the country. 

Facebook / Refuge Coffee UKRefuge Coffee is run out of a tuk-tuk van and will be staffed by unaccompanied minors and refugees.

'So we have the component of being a good neighbour and we have this job placement aspect of creating employment. The other thing as grow we hope to develop community partners where we can give back to support them,' he says.

'There is a very clear call to move towards other and love others. We need to make sure that we are taking up the unchanging call of Christ to love the world.

'Refuge Coffee just seems fit those ideas.'

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