make; it happen a Social Enterprise
make; coffee is the business backbone of the make; it happen project: to encourage, develop and campaign for adaptable employment for people affected by illness: Inspired by my own experience and approved by The Prince’s Trust and the Teenage Cancer Trust. Starting with creating my own adaptable employment, I want to prove that it’s even possible to turn some experiences of illness to your advantage and develop opportunities for people affected by illness. In this case, the model is well-suited to the mobile coffee van business which can fit location to a variety of working hours and requirements.
‘BYOB’ – Be Your Own Boss – (Not bring your own booze…)
Having regularly experienced the tensions between illness and employment, I can’t overemphasise how reassuring and exciting it is for me to become my own boss. I’ve lived with these problems on and off since 2004, aged 18. Over the years this became intensely stressful. Not only does illness affect your CV and create many employment scenarios where you can be unfairly judged or disempowered, it also causes financial instability. Employer support differs widely. The state support is invaluable, but the system isn’t perfect. It’s extremely stressful in the (often long) period between applying and being approved for support when you’re not only unwell but at risk of missing bills and rent. Furthermore it’s hard to live on ESA financially and also personally – engendering feelings of vulnerability, dependence and lack of direction. Enterprise is an exciting option. But I believe there are some specific requirements in planning a business which may support people through health difficulties. For instance, the business needs a good chance of success, shouldn’t cause disproportionate amounts of stress and would need some level of flexibility.
I need to learn more about this before make; it happen can come to life. make; coffee will provide a real case-study of this, while also allowing me time to research and network. For example: coffee is a relatively ‘safe’ industry - sales continued to grow during the recession. The mobile van is simple to run and therefore the role can be transferred to an employee if necessary. Furthermore this business is flexible: serving commuters in the morning and then providing a chance to rest, attend medical appointments, book parties or events, manage finances or to work on make; it happen and my own creative work, blogging and writing. In 2015 /16 I may have surgery to fix a chronic bowel problem (caused by multiple abdominal surgeries). But with make; coffee I would employ someone to take over as the barista. Then, when I recover I would have a good job to come back to.
These are just the first few examples of experiences I would like to share and build on with make’ coffee and organisations like the Teenage Cancer Trust to work towards the ‘make; it happen’ resource. I believe topical issues such as benefit reform make this type of concept particularly prescient.