Evolve continues to improve

Social enterprise cafe brews plans for extended placements.

Birmingham social enterprise café, Evolve, is commemorating a year since the launch of its second site, with a pledge to extend the duration of its work placements. The not-for-profit coffee shop has helped over twenty young people onto the career ladder over the last 18 months, but now, it has set its sights on helping 15 more by the end of 2019.

Evolve provides young people who have faced barriers into employment with training and job opportunities, giving each one training, accreditations and – most importantly – purpose. Initially offering three-month placements, the team will now grant twelve-month positions instead.

Evolve hopes that by extending the placements, the success of them will be even further reaching. The schemes so far have already been truly life-changing for those who have worked at Evolve. At the end of their contracts, each young person has left with an average of five qualifications, full barista training, and greater prospects: 77% of those who have completed the course have gone on to gain long term employment.

Speaking about the journey so far and the future plans, Taylor Barrett, a support worker at Evolve, commented: “We are astounded at the positive progress that our young people have made in the past 18 months, and to say we are proud would be an understatement.

“When we established Evolve, we had high hopes for what could be achieved, but we could never have predicted the success that it has had and the impact it would have on so many young people’s lives.

“As project facilitators, we have also learnt so much on the journey and one of the biggest takeaways has been that by extending our placements, we can prepare our young people better and make an even longer-lasting impact once they leave us. We’ve seen that it can take some people three months to just open up and reveal some of the problems they might be experiencing, so by the time they leave, you might only have scratched the surface.”

One such example of this has been Shonah Wooton, an apprentice-turned-team-leader at Evolve. Shonah was part of Evolve’s first cohort, having faced previous barriers to employment struggled with her mental health since the age of 14, being diagnosed with depression, anxiety and psychosis, which then turned into paranoid schizophrenia, manic bipolar disorder, to her diagnosis today of a personality disorder.

Since starting her placement with Evolve, Shonah has developed exponentially: Shonah has achieved a Level 2 Health and Hygiene Certificate and Level 2 in Barista Skills, and is one of the more senior members of staff at Evolve, taking on leadership roles and supporting those enrolling on their own placements at the cafes.

“Seeing Shonah’s confidence grow to where she is now is proof that the move to a twelve month apprenticeship is a step in the right direction. Over 12 months, I anticipate that we will see more a great change in our team and hope that they leave Evolve knowing that they have the skills, experience and attitude to make a difference to the community – to be able to see their worth in the workplace,” concluded Taylor.

To keep up with all things Evolve, you can check out www.evolvebirmingham.co.uk, or follow the team on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can also visit Evolve’s Digbeth and Pershore Road sites to pick up a coffee, cake, or snack.