Extra cups of coffee add up to a big boost for homeless

Oxford Mail: Andrew and Claire Bowen at Java Coffee, which raises money for the homeless. Picture: OX67476 Mark Hemsworth Buy this photo Andrew and Claire Bowen at Java Coffee, which raises money for the homeless. Picture: OX67476 Mark Hemsworth

COFFEE lovers and tea drinkers have raised more than £1,000 for a homeless charity by adding a second cup for someone in need to their bill.

Customers of Oxford’s Java&Co have bought 550 ‘suspended coffees’ in the last year and the funds raised have to gone to the Gatehouse.

The scheme – the first of its kind in the city – started when owners Andrew and Claire Bowen were stirred into action by a post on Facebook.

Mr Bowen, 50, said: “I had a customer contact us on Facebook. We looked it up and realised it was a global movement which started in Italy and has gone viral. But we had never heard of it. I thought it was a really good idea.

“We’re really pleased with how well it is doing and the fact that it is still growing. Our hope is that other cafes and other restaurants in Oxford will set up a scheme of their own.”

A year after its adoption, the coffee shop has raised £1366 through customers spending an extra £1.50 for a suspended coffee.

The owners said some regular customers come in each week just to buy a suspended coffee.

The coffee shop in New Inn Hall Street has hosted other charity events throughout the year such as auctioning paintings to help raise funds.

Mrs Bowen, 50, said: “We are absolutely delighted that it has been so successful and the total that has been received has been phenomenal.

“We are so pleased that our customers are supporting such a good cause and we’ve always encouraged it to go further.”

The Gatehouse opens for two hours each evening and is a drop-in centre for the homeless.

Andrew Smith, from the charity based at the St Giles parish rooms in Woodstock Road, said: “I was amazed to hear from the Javaistas that some customers come in specially just to buy a suspended coffee because they know that the money will go directly to support our work. Homeless people really appreciate the help they receive from local business. It makes them feel part of the community.”

Jayson Marc-Frater, 43, lived on the streets for 28 years before he started volunteering for the charity.

He said: “It means so much to the Gatehouse. It keeps us ticking over and we are able to expand and get games for the guests to enjoy.

“The Gatehouse has helped me over the past 13 or 14 years. I did appreciate it and that is why I wanted to give something back.

“I had the opportunity and I took it with both hands.”

The suspended coffee scheme originated in Italy before becoming a global phenomenon on Facebook last year.

It is said to have originated more than 100 years ago in working-class cafes in Naples, Italy.

When someone experienced good luck they would buy a second coffee to be put aside.

Those in need would then approach cafes to ask if any of the pre-paid coffees were available.

WHERE THE MONEY GOES

Customers can donate £1.50 to the Gatehouse at Java&Co. Ask for a suspended coffee at the counter, and £1.50 will be put into a collection tin for the charity.
The whole amount then goes to the Gatehouse, at the St Giles parish rooms in Woodstock Road, where homeless people can get a cuppa six days a week. There are on average 50 to 55 guests for each session.
According to figures from Oxford Homeless Pathways, around 56 homeless people aged 22 and over use emergency accommodation at Oxford’s O'Hanlon House and the city is also estimated to have one of the highest numbers of people sleeping rough in the UK.

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