Suspended coffee; realised hope
When I first heard that Starbucks had chosen Oasis as their ‘suspended coffee’ partner, my mind began to buzz with possibilities.
We’re no strangers to Starbucks’s generosity – in fact we’ve been working together for years. In the past, our community hubs have benefited from volunteers getting their hands dirty while giving our buildings a spring-clean, our gardens a much needed revamp and one of our youth centre a welcome renovation.
But the suspended coffee scheme is different. It gets to the heart of what we’re really about.
Oasis was founded 1985 and today we work in over 25 communities across the UK and even more around the world. We recognise that people aren’t two-dimensional beings. We are each a whole person with a diverse range of needs, hopes and challenges. Oasis exists to help give hope to absolutely everyone, regardless of their gender, beliefs, race, age or sexual orientation. But we know that you can’t just tackle one pocket of need – a joined up approach is essential.
In any given community we run a range of projects – such as an academy, a foodbank, a community church, a youth group – but we ensure these projects are integrated.
We call this concept ‘hub’, and people are at the heart of it. It might look a bit different from place to place, but each of our hubs ensure people’s needs are met holistically. For example, if a family at an academy is struggling to put food on the table, perhaps a foodbank can help. If a parent is struggling with their teenager’s behaviour, a timely chat with a youth worker could be a breath of fresh air. If there are primary school children struggling with their reading, perhaps we can arrange reading mentors.
Ultimately, we need to connect with people, to build relationships and coffee can help us do that. Coffee can be donated to foodbanks; it can feature at a community event; it can encourage parents to come and watch their sons play football.
But in the years we’ve been doing this, we’ve learnt that helping people is not just about the big events, projects or schemes. For a person really struggling with life, just sitting down with someone for a coffee and chat can be a real encouragement. It’s warm, friendly and comforting. It makes a difference. It could be life changing.
Sue Robbins, Director of Fundraising and Communications, Oasis