CVGT Australia Hobart finds common ground with Salvation Army

CVGT Australia’s Hobart team is building a strong alliance with the Salvation Army’s Common Ground facility, coming together over a cup of coffee.

Common Ground is a Hobart-based community housing project that accommodates people who are homeless and struggling with mental health, drug and alcohol, or associated complex issues.

In 2019, the need was identified to get the Common Ground tenant population, who are of a cohort of formally homeless people, engaged in work.

It was recognised this would not only keep the residents occupied during the day, but also equip them with skills to increase their chances of finding ongoing, meaningful employment.

This is how a coffee van, suitably named Coffee Ground, came to life.

CVGT Australia partnered with Salvation Army’s Common Ground and TasTAFE to bring the idea of having residents employed at the coffee van to fruition. Two years later, the van is a popular meeting place outside the Common Ground complex in Hobart.

With the support of CVGT Australia, residents are employed at the van to develop core work and social skills.

Participants also have the option to complete a barista course, giving them training and, in turn, skills and confidence.

Salvation Army’s Common Ground manage Anthony Fagan says the partnership is crucial in helping people get on the right track.

“It was through the partnership with CVGT that we were able to recognise and manifest the coffee van,” he says. “In the nuts and bolts of it, CVGT are supporting our tenants, their clients, to get back into the workplace.”

“CVGT are providing pathways to training, they are recognising that there are barriers to getting back into employment, and they are providing one-on-one support. They are also providing work resources.” Anthony says.

Fifteen people have completed training to work at the van, and one person has progressed to manager.

The van has many positive benefits, not just for the Salvation Army and CVGT Australia, but for the people who are now employees, Anthony says.

“You see the improvement of their health and wellbeing, you see their identity shift from being stigmatised as a person, to all of a sudden being a barista in the local community,” he says.

“The relationships with the customers that they forge at the van are not relationships that would have otherwise been realised, so this is an interaction that is happening because of the coffee van.”

CVGT Australia recently designed and donated 10,000 compostable takeaway coffee cups to the coffee van, the donation aligning with the organisation’s strategic priority to be more environmentally friendly.

Mick Allen, CVGT Australia’s manager for Disability Employment Services in Hobart, is proud of the partnership and looks forward to nurturing it for many years to come.

“The Salvation Army and Common Ground partnership has now passed its second birthday,” Mick says. “This partnership covers the Hobart CBD, Glenorchy, Sorell, Carlton and the East Coast of Tasmania. It’s a great example of how organisations can come together and support people to find a purpose in life, create a gathering spot for others and make a general difference to where we live.”

Mick says he is excited to see employees at the coffee van become active members of the Hobart community, gaining a new sense of purpose and direction.

“I am so very proud of all the hard work the CVGT Australia team has done in this space and how they have helped people in need, and to then see those people really enjoy being part of the wider Hobart community.”

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