Sheffield social enterprise Twin Cafe operates on the principles that business is something that should be more than fair.

In 2013, two Sheffield University students visited Sheffield’s twin city, Esteli in Nicaragua. Sarah and Sam were on an exchange run by the Students for Estelí society. They taught English as a foreign language in the university there, lived with a local family and made friends with a farming community just outside of the city. When they returned from the trip they wanted to do something to support the community they had visited. As coffee was one of Nicaragua’s major export they had the idea of buying coffee directly from a small farmer’s co-operative, bringing it to Sheffield where it would be roasted and sold locally.  The founders wanted the money raised from selling the coffee to go to organisations that supported young people in Sheffield and in Esteli.

In Esteli, the chosen project is called Los Angelitos. It’s run by local music teacher Jose Alberto from a small room in his house, and allows children and teens to discover their musical talents. In a community where, unfortunately, individuals often have limited opportunities, Jose aims to bring young people together and direct their energies into something positive, creative and fun. He provides those who want to take part with access to instruments, teaching and support. Providing young people with access to these opportunities helps keep them away from drugs and gangs which are beginning to become a problem in the area. This has proven to work spectacularly, with Los Angeltios going from strength to strength often performing locally, and also having represented Estelí in the capital Managua on a number of occasions.

Twin Cafe are also helping young people closer to home by supporting the Roundabout Homeless Charity, who have been providing shelter for homeless people in Sheffield since 1977 and now support over 150 young people every day. They emphasize that prevention is the way forward by taking young homeless people into Sheffield schools to talk about the importance of attempting to sort out problems at home. At the same time, they reassure pupils that if things aren’t working out, there are always services that will support them.

Roundabout have a Hostel where homeless young people can live for a 6 week to 6 month period while being given support and opportunities to improve their situation. Secure bedsits and shared housing are also available throughout the city for those wanting to live more independently. With these resources, Roundabout aim to break the cycle of homelessness.

Twin Cafe sells coffee to the public through a shop on their website, and at the pop up cafe that takes place at 18 Union Street every Friday.  This is a place where students, local office workers and the self- employed all rub shoulders. You can call in for a coffee, socialise or study in an ideal City Centre location. An increasing number of shops and coffee shops throughout Sheffield also stock Twin Cafe coffee in addition to this, including Beanies, New Roots and Beeches of Walkley.

Twin Cafe have constant aims for expansion. Recently new volunteers have become involved, meaning the social enterprise is developing from individuals to teams. You can become part of Twin Cafe’s story: show your support by buying their coffee online or at their Pop Up Cafe or you can become a Twin Cafe Member and get the latest updates and discounts.

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Lucie Dowson is an English student at the University of Sheffield

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