Society Melbourne - Change with an Impact

Justin from The Grants Hub & Tenille from Society Melbourne.jpeg

This week I had the privilege of sharing a coffee and jaffle with the crew from Society Melbourne, the Social Enterprise that was recently awarded The Grants Hub’s Social Enterprise Grant. Their team has certainly put in the hard yards and it was truly inspiring to check out what they’re getting up to.

The home.two cafe, one of several projects Society Melbourne is undertaking in Melbourne, is nestled on the corner of Melbourne Uni in Parkville. This funky alfresco style cafe, surrounded by plenty of greenery, instantly escaped me from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city. Like most of us, when I check out a cafe I’m drawn by two things, the quality of food and the general vibe. I soon realised why there was a hive of activity as home.two cafe nailed both these criteria.

But if I’m honest, what I don’t think about all that often is purpose. Sure, most in the food industry exist for profit, and we all get that. But to sit down with Tenille, the Chief Operations Manager at Society Melbourne, and hear the backstory behind their work made my experience so much more meaningful. This cafe has a clear mission - to eradicate youth homelessness in Australia. As we sat down and chatted about how this idea came to fruition, there were a few things that stood out to me, making Society Melbourne an inspiring and sustainable story.

Society Melbourne has a heart for social change. When chatting to Tenille, we asked what drives her to invest her time into youth homelessness. There are so many things she could invest in, so why this? Tenille replied by simply saying it’s just there, it’s aways been there, I have a heart for it. Behind such a cause as this, I have no doubt that passion and an innate desire to bring good to others is essential. Society Melbourne has this, and I soon realised why Tenille and her team have accomplished what they have in such a short amount of time. They want to bring about change, and really believe that they can do it.

Having had 10 years in the education system, one concept I learnt early on was scaffolding, a teaching method that enables students to carry out a task, or achieve a goal through a gradual shedding of outside assistance. I love the way Society Melbourne achieves this. When vulnerable youth are placed within their program, they are not thrown in the deep end. Through support, encouragement and guidance, youth make their way through a series of cafes, starting off in a less threatening environment which serves as training ground. As their capacity grows, so to do the opportunities to work at venues with more foot traffic. I love this, what a great model to use when working with those who need a good boost of confidence in life.

Finally, Society Melbourne aren’t at it alone. They have developed strong partnerships, working alongside others who do what they do best. Not only are these networks strong, but they are sustainable, allowing their work to grow. From partnering with others working in the sphere of homelessness, to connecting with local universities to engage their students in a cafe with a cause, I soon saw that Society Melbourne does this well.

So, next time you need a good coffee hit, a good vibe, with a good purpose, head on down to one of Society Melbourne’s cafes, or better still, hire their crew to bring one of their coffee carts over to your next event - what a brilliant way that we can all get behind such an important cause and bring about change that matters.

Justin Ballantyne
Operations Manager
The Grants Hub