Tuesday 28 May 2024
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Virgin Trains helps to fight homelessness with “life changing” coffee

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LONDON, UK — Virgin Trains has partnered with Change Please to offer a premium coffee range onboard, whilst supporting the social enterprise, to help tackle homelessness in the UK.

The coffee, which won Great Taste Awards 2018, will see Virgin Trains expand its range in the onboard shop to include a Flat White, and introduce a new freshly brewed filter blend in First Class. In addition, Customers who bring along a reusable cup will benefit from 20p discount on their coffee.

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Launched in 2015 with the support of Virgin StartUp, Change Please puts 100% of its profits towards reducing homelessness. They employ people without a place to live, provide full barista training, pay the Living Wage and support with housing, bank accounts and mental wellbeing.

Change Please will use their profits generated from their contract with Virgin Trains to train more baristas. It is estimated around 107 homeless people will be trained each year, as a result of the partnership. Virgin Trains will work with Change Please to include successful trainees in their recruitment process, to offer them a chance to use their new skills in a role with Virgin Trains.


In the last three years, Change Please has trained more than 84 people and expanded to 32 sites across London and Manchester. Their presence in Manchester will expand further with some profits from onboard coffee sales directed towards funding sites in the city.

Virgin Trains will use Change Please coffee beans to brew the one million cups it sells onboard each year, along with the countless cups poured in First Class. The beans, which are Rainforest Alliance certified, are carefully selected by master roasters and Virgin Trains to create a unique blend that has been taste tested by Virgin Trains customers.

In a further step to help tackle homelessness, Virgin Trains is encouraging its people to report rough sleeping at stations on its route to Change Please who will reach out and offer them support.

Cemal Ezel, founder of Change Please, said: “We’re thrilled Virgin Trains has chosen Change Please to be their coffee provider, demonstrating their commitment to tackling the growing problem of homelessness. Not only does our partnership raise public awareness of this issue but with 100 percent of our sale profits going into our training programme, customers are literally changing lives with the simple gesture of buying a cup of coffee, every time they travel. What’s more, because our coffee is an award-winning blend, they don’t have to compromise on quality. So, they can sit back, relax and help change the world.”

Sarah Copley, Executive Director of Commercial at Virgin Trains, said: “Coffee is a customer favourite and we’re excited to be working with Change Please who produced this unique blend especially for Virgin Trains. This ethically sourced coffee gives something back to everyone involved in the process from the farming of beans to the first sip in the customer’s cup.

Change Please share our values – they put people at the heart of everything they do and make a great tasting coffee that our customers will love. We’re proud to be partnering with them to tackle homelessness – our new coffee range not only tastes good but will do good for the communities along our route.”

About Change Please

Change Please was launched in 2015 with the help of Virgin StartUp and a partnership with The Big Issue. The social enterprise empowers the homeless community to rebuild their lives with its, ‘hands up, not a hand out’ model. In addition to providing barista training, Change Please supports its trainees with accommodation and mental wellbeing.

Change Please has grown rapidly in the last three years, and now has 32 sites in London and Manchester and is in discussions with bodies in New York, regarding bringing its programme across the Atlantic.

Change Please also has its own range of award-winning coffee stocked at Sainsbury’s, and will be available to buy from further retailers in the near future.

For more information, visit: www.changeplease.org


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