4 Newsboys Foundation 125 Years STREAT Café CEO and co-founder Rebecca Scott could talk about many things in describing the success of her social enterprise. She could talk about the 1200 or so young people her organisation has offered a second chance at life since 2010. She could list the range of professions that STREAT has helped young people move into, from chef to social worker and many solid jobs in between. She could celebrate the fact that STREAT is on the way to financial self-sufficiency. She could even point to the fantastic products created by the bakery and coffee roastery downstairs from her Collingwood office. But she doesn’t. Instead, she takes delight in one particular result within research STREAT conducted, asking those who have come through the organisation’s programs what they liked and what could be done better. In surveys, young people consistently say that when they come to work they choose to walk through the café then through the middle of the office because they know they will get a lot of smiles and hellos. The young people say that being greeted so many times and so warmly was something new in their world. STREAT started as a food cart and then grew to a Cromwell Street, Collingwood café, with the bakery and the beanery. Now it has expanded again, thanks to its latest Newsboys Foundation grant, to open the Bowen Street Café, near RMIT. These cafés are about a lot more than foam art on the coffees. They offer young people in danger of spiralling out of control a way to regain their lives. “I’m always interested in contextualising what happens for young people who are left behind,” Rebecca said. “How do we get them back? Is this an intractable problem? I don’t think it is. "The young people we help are so far out on the margins and we are trying to bring them together into the community and connect them. Our research over years shows better mental health can come from training, accommodation, and employment, but that sense of belonging is the highest thing.” Rebecca describes STREAT as a slingshot, to propel these young people from the margins back into the centre of communities so they can feel safe, supported and thrive. “They come to us from prison, from homelessness, detox and rehab,” she said. “We really get the pointy end of disadvantaged kids.” But imagine being one of those kids. From thinking nobody cares and your future is bleak, you find yourself surrounded by the STREAT team’s smiles. You feel respected. STREAT offers counselling, assistance with court dates or Centrelink applications or seemingly impossible paperwork. And you are trained in specific, tangible skills, whether making coffee or bread, or working in food service. You’re fed good food, put through TAFE to get a hospitality qualification certificate, and you can suck in all the unconditional love you can handle from the resident therapy dog. Life can begin again. STREAT’s connection with Newsboys runs deep, from the vital funding the Newsboys Foundation has provided STREAT through to Rebecca’s personal fascination with the original newsboys of Melbourne’s streets in the 19th century, post Gold Rush. Bowen Street was chosen as the location for the new café because it was a known haunt of the newsboys, a group of ragged, pre-teen chancers who lived by their wits and sold papers to survive. The Melbourne City Newsboys Society, the original incarnation of today’s Newsboys Foundation, was established to give the newsboys education, training, meals, accommodation and even jobs, and above all a sense of belonging. The parallels to STREAT’s work now are not subtle. “Ours are exactly those same young people 125 years later,” Rebecca said. Struggling young people still need smiles. Newsboys Foundation support for STREAT dates back to 2011 when a Newsboys grant helped provide a social support worker. In 2017, Newsboys Foundation provided a three-year grant for the creation of Bowen Street Café. Visit: Streat.com.au Coffee to the rescue STREAT runs cafés, roasts coffee beans, makes cakes, bakes bread, and gives a helping hand. But perhaps its greatest success is in providing young people with a sense of belonging