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'It could happen to anyone'. Jackie Middleton on Homelessness and CafeSmart from Earl Canteen

Jackie Middleton is someone who is passionate about ending homelessness. As a cafe owner, Jackie uses her business as a pathway for good people to make donations to CafeSmart. Being one of Melbourne's top contributors to CafeSmart, we wanted to find out more.

What do you think others in the hospitality industry can learn from your example in promoting and supporting Cafesmart?

I think it makes sense to do it. In hospitality, we’re at the forefront, talking to thousands of people every single day about different things. This is a great story.

It benefits our local immediate community as well. So we put our boxes out the week before to start building the hype.

Why should people care about cafesmart?

My response would be ‘why wouldn’t you care?’. Everyone at my cafe, because we’re in the CBD, are probably walking past people that need help everyday. This is a way that you can help them where you actually know that you’re getting to them properly, at a grassroots level.

So sometimes you’re like ‘is dropping some change in that person's lap in the street going to benefit them or is it hindering their progress forward?’. You know that when you’re donating to Cafesmart you’re really benefiting them in a good way because they’re obviously selecting the charities that they’re working with well.

Where do you see your role in this whole effort?

Facilitator, so, making sure that I do what I can. I’ve known Adam that started this whole thing since the very beginning and I was really inspired by him. We wanted to help as much as we could and my business has been fortunate enough to grow and I feel like I have good fortune because of that.

If Adam was the facilitator to bring it to my attention, then I am the facilitator to bring it to seven cafes’ attention and hence then thousands of people across the city that might not otherwise know about Street Smart or Cafe Smart.

What role do you see the community playing in solving homelessness?

It’s a tricky one because I personally find it really tumultuous because I don’t really know what I should do on a personal level. Where as I feel like Cafesmart is something I can action, so I want to grab it.

Sometimes I feel torn about giving people money on the street. I’ve always felt very confident with the traceability at Cafesmart because they are sharing their information well with where the money has gone and how much they’ve raised, so it puts my mind at ease.

Who do you think has a part to play in making homelessness a thing of the past?

Everyone I guess, because it’s everyone’s problem. You read all the time that it could happen to anyone, so then it has to become everyone’s problem.

Obviously some people are more influential than others and I would hope that myself and my cafes can help to facilitate it more, or faster. I’ll do as much as I can in little ways like this.

How do you feel about the fact that the money raised goes directly to the community in which it is raised?

That’s one of the best things about it for us. That we’re raising the money in Melbourne and the money is used in Melbourne.

We like our coffee down here, so we’re probably pushing a bit more money than the others, perhaps? I don’t know actually what the numbers are, I shouldn’t speak too soon! There has to be some benefits for us Melbournians liking our coffee so much, so maybe this is one of them.

What would you say to cafe owners or roasters who are thinking about joining cafesmart?

They should ask their teams about it. I definitely know my teams, our baristas, our store managers, our counter staff and even our kitchen crew know what it's all about and are really proud to be involved. If I can make my staff feel happy on another level, then that’s another win.

To get involved, tap here to find your 3 nearest CafeSmart cafes. (iPhone only) Once you're in, simply tap the CafeSmart Logo.

Ping has partnered with CafeSmart this year to make finding a CafeSmart cafe easy.