Young people have been the first to be stood down throughout 2020, particularly in the hardest hit sectors – retail and hospitality. As local labour markets move into recession we are already experiencing a severe lack of job suitability and availability for young people. Our focus at Youth Projects is on being at the forefront of job creation for young people by developing our social procurement and enterprise opportunities.

In 2019, we secured Social Traders certification to recognise and verify that our social enterprise trade status is intentionally tackling social problems, improving communities, providing access to employment and training for people and investing revenue into social purposes. Certification has resulted in a successful tender with Alfred Health and Banyule City Council to launch two new social enterprise cafes scheduled in November and December.

As we lean into a new, post-pandemic realm, we are focussed on maximising our social impact whilst concurrently creating economic value into the wider Victorian business sector.

Cue, the expansion of our social enterprise program into a number of new venues, a new look and feel and most importantly, greater employment and training opportunities for young people.

Built on years of success through our current model with Good2Go, The Little Social cafes will boast a fresh new experience and benchmark for our social enterprise program hosting bespoke and socially conscious coffee bars brewing the finest espresso, serving up nutritious food and empowering young people to lead meaningful lives through hands-on skills development and mentoring from industry experts within a structured training program.

Each young person that engages with our social enterprise training program will have a platform to build self-confidence, gain key employability skills and genuine work experience in a supportive and judgement free environment at The Little Social.

Customers will also be able to sprinkle a bit of kindness into someone else's day through our pay-it-forward initiative to anonymously purchase coffee and food for someone experiencing homelessness - an important element of our holistic, wrap around connection to our community health services in Melbourne's CBD.

Our CEO, Ben Vasiliou, took part in early discussions with Banyule City Council and Alfred Health, respectively, and shared his thoughts on the opportunity to partner, “We saw this opportunity as too good to miss. A social enterprise venture such as (these) gives young people a significant boost in confidence and in self-esteem."

We are so pleased with the support from Banyule Council and Alfred Health,” he says. “Apart from vital financial support in the first years, the attitude to social enterprise, from Banyule City Council and Alfred Health is so encouraging and important in our partnerships."

Through Good2Go and The Little Social cafes, Youth Projects will continue to harness community goodwill towards social and economic sustainability and ethical business and invests profits to innovate and grow within a social justice framework - reaffirming our vision of young people being good-to-go into a competitive job market.

The Little Social will open at The Alfred's Education & Innovation Hub on Monday 16 November and at Rosanna Station will open on Monday 11 January 2021.

The Little Social cafes are powered by Youth Projects and proudly supported by Banyule City Council and Alfred Health.