It’s a small gesture, but it can still have a big impact on a person’s day.
A cup of coffee – a good one.
While many experts would disagree, we think it should be on the fundamental layer of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, somewhere near oxygen, water and shelter, no less.
And, while the needs of rough sleepers is far more wide-ranging and complex than can be solved with a good cuppa, never underestimate the impact of kind gesture.
That’s the thinking behind a new initiative launched by a group of Manly locals called Kindness Coffees, which gives customers of participating cafes a way to prepay a coffee for someone who is a rough sleeper, a person having a rough day, or otherwise in need.
The project aims to inject a small moment of kindness into the day of Australia’s 116,000 homeless population, many of whom gravitate to beaches like Manly to use amenities like showers and toilets, and attend weekly soup kitchens such as those held in The Corso and Gilbert Park.
Prepaid coffees are also available to anyone who is unemployed or otherwise struggling – particularly in the midst of COVID-19 stress.
It’s an idea that has already been rolled out on an ad hoc basis at various local and overseas cafes, however the Kindness Coffees team wanted to entice multiple cafes to get on board quickly and easily through a standardised and simple process.
The group aims to expand the project to include other Northern Beaches suburbs, for venues to eventually extend it to prepaid meals, and for the process to be replicable by other groups in other regions, such as Sydney’s Inner West or the Western suburbs.
From little things big things grow, and all that jazz.
The initiative will use a ticketing or tally system, and will help support local small businesses by helping to lift coffee sales from patrons who might otherwise have purchased only one coffee for themselves.
The project is currently being successfully trialled at Manly’s Little Shop of Waffles and Sprout Espresso & Sandwiches, however the group is also encouraging other Northern Beaches cafes to join in too.
Community Northern Beaches, a not-for-profit organisation supporting those in need on the Northern Beaches, will also help to create awareness with the local homeless community.
It complements the work of Manly MP James Griffin put into the ‘Back Your Local’ social media campaign, which aims to connect locals with small business operators in the Manly area to help keep businesses running in the time of COVID-19.
“We see Kindness Coffees as a continuation of our ‘Back Your Local’ campaign because it will also help to increase revenue for local businesses who have had a challenging year. But on top of this, it will also help to provide a moment of kindness for those who are doing it tough while increasing community spirit and togetherness,” James Griffin said.
Founding member of Kindness Coffees Sam McCourt said people are often surprised to learn there is a large – and growing – cohort of rough sleepers in Manly.
“What many are unaware of is that we actually have quite a large and growing homeless population that both resides here and also travels in regularly, due to the amenities, availability of meals from soup kitchens, and accessibility via the ferries.
“We simply wanted to inject a small amount of kindness into the lives of anyone going through a rough time during Covid and beyond. Our commitment at all stages of Kindness Coffees is to employ a process that benefits and uplifts all involved, maintains the dignity of those receiving the acts of kindness, and builds a sense of collective care and empathy within our community.”
Manly Observer first spotted Kindness Coffees at Manly Corso newcomer Little Shop of Waffles. They have little ping pong balls you can pay for and put in a jar for others to claim when needed. Co-owner Irene Zalami said over 40 coffees were donated in the first month.
The additional coffee purchases are also helpful for local businesses already struggling during current lcokdowns.
Irene Zalami, co-owner of Little Shop of Waffles, says: “We are delighted to be able to support this worthy initiative, and so grateful to the founding members for launching such a valuable program. In the month we have supported Kindness Coffees, we’ve already witnessed the deep generosity of the local community firsthand, with over 40 Kindness Coffees already donated!”
Daiki Tanaka, owner of Sprout Espresso & Sandwiches, said the business got involved in Kindness Coffees to give back to the community and better understand how many people were in need in the community.
“I know some might think there are bigger ways to help the homeless community, but I believe there is great value in small gestures of kindness and care – and we are all able to offer small moments of this every single day. I thank our customers for getting so involved already,” he said.
Kindness Coffees is actively looking for Northern Beaches cafes to join the waiting list of participating venues, connect with them via their socials to find out how you can get involved.