News Navigation

Introducing A New Coffee Brand to Help Homelessness

Press Release - London, 23 November 2015

The Big Issue has partnered with advertising agency FCB Inferno and Old Spike Roastery to launch Change Please, a fully rounded solution to help tackle the cycle of homelessness. Homeless individuals are being housed in temporary accommodation and trained as baristas to sell premium coffee, from state of the art coffee vans. They are being paid London living wage as they gain the skills and experience needed to enter the mainstream workforce. Profit will be re-invested into the programme to train a new cycle of baristas.

Announcing their location on the Change Please website and social media channels daily, the vans will rotate between high-footfall areas in London, such as Covent Garden and Borough. Over the next year, Change Please will be launched in other major UK cities. The coffee beans and merchandise are also available to buy online for nationwide delivery.

The takeaway coffee market is forecast to be worth £8bn in the UK next year and the average London coffee drinker has more than two cups on the go daily i. By contrast, all types of homelessness are on the increase across the UK with a record 280,000 people approaching their local authority for homelessness assistance. Rough sleeping, the most extreme form of homelessness, has more thandoubled in London in the past five years ii. Progress to help ease the problem has stalled and cynicism has increased. FCB Inferno conceived and sponsored Change Please in response to these concerns, and in recognition of the nation’s growing thirst for coffee. The Big Issue brings its network and years of experience helping the homeless to the project. The Old Spike Roastery in Peckham provides the baristas’ training, as well as its own ethically sourced coffee (with a ‘taste rating’ of 86+, compared to Starbucks’ 30) iii.

The Big Isssue’s National Distribtution Director, Peter Bird says: “Change Please is the fresh approach now required to help the homeless. Selling the Big Issue works well to provide people currently living on the streets with a way to help themselves work towards a better life, but there is a gap between that segment of homelessness and securing a regular job that needed a solution; Change Please provides that and will hopefully be the leg up that people need to work their way back in to society.”

FCB Inferno CEO, Frazer Gibney, says: “FCB Inferno approached The Big Issue with the idea for Change Please just over a year ago and it has been a project close to the heart of the agency ever since. We are extremely proud to be launching this week and to see that the initiative is already changing people’s lives for the better. By building on The Big Issue’s model we hope to see many more homeless individuals find their way back into society in the years to come.”


i Mintel, Coffee Report, December 2014.
ii Crisis.
iii Rated by the Specialty Coffee Association Europe.


Old Spike Roastery

Old Spike Roastery is a coffee roasting company and coffee shop based at 54 Peckham Rye. It is a social enterprise that provides jobs and housing for homeless people, while providing mental health support, rehabilitation and occupational therapy. By roasting premium beans from around the world and selling them directly to consumers and businesses, they are able to provide secure jobs for local homeless people in and around London.

The Big Issue - a hand up not a hand out

The Big Issue is a magazine sold by homeless and long-term unemployed people. Vendors buy copies for £1.25 and sell for £2.50. They are working, not begging. Since The Big Issue was launched in 1991 it has helped thousands of vulnerable people take control of their lives. It currently works with around 1500 individuals across the UK, offering them the opportunity to earn a legitimate income: to ‘help them to help themselves’.

Over the past 25 years, the magazine has become synonymous with challenging, independent journalism, and renowned for securing exclusive interviews with the most elusive of superstars. It currently circulates around 78,000 copies every week.

Vendors undergo an induction process and sign up to a code of conduct. They are allocated a pitch and issued with several free copies of the magazine. Last year alone we put more than £5 million in the pockets of our vendors, releasing them from a dependence on hand-outs and providing an alternative to begging.

  • The Big Issue is a social enterprise that exists to offer homeless people, and those at risk of homelessness, the opportunity to earn a legitimate income.
  • We produce a weekly entertainment and current affairs magazine which vendors buy from us for £1.25 and sell to the public for £2.50, keeping the difference.
  • Vendors receive training and support, are allocated a fixed pitch from which to vend, and must adhere to a code of conduct whilst selling the magazine.
  • The Big Issue Foundation is a registered charity that exists to link vendors with vital support that will help them to address the issues that may have led to their homelessness. The Big Issue Foundation works exclusively with vendors, offering support, advice and referrals.

For further information please go to or

FCB Inferno

FCB Inferno is the London agency of global advertising network FCB. The network dates back to 1873, and now has 9000 employees in 90 countries, with 200 at FCB Inferno.
The agency is fully integrated, delivering all advertising services under one roof, such as TV, Retail, Social Media and Outdoor.
FCB Inferno’s clients sit across industry sectors and currently include BMW, NIVEA, Microsoft and Oreo. In 2015 FCB Inferno was one of the most awarded UK agencies for the Sport England campaign ‘This Girl Can’, developed to encourage women and girls to take part in more sports.