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Introducing the vegan cafe with a social purpose

Words by Smiley Team

In the heart of London’s lively borough of Brixton, Cafe Van Gogh is a community-driven business with a social purpose. 

Serving nutritious vegan food, the cafe is staffed by people experiencing additional challenges such as learning difficulties or mental health issues. The Community Interest Company (CIC) has joined forces with not-for-profit Toucan Employment which help people with learning difficulties or disabilities find work in the London boroughs of Southwark, Lambeth, Brent and Lewisham.[Read more: 12-year-old disabled child saves activity centre]

With the non-profit’s help, Cafe Van Gogh discovered Michelle, who they brought on to work with employees. She ensures they get the most out of the training and go on to find long-term work. “I coach people of all ages to undertake certain roles within the cafe,” she explains, “ensuring that the participants that take places here are happy and comfortable with what they are doing.”Working as waiters there, Tiarma and Ehima have already settled in well. To encourage them to develop their hospitality skills, Michelle has set them both goals based on the areas in which they’re less confident. Michelle is already impressed by their progress, saying: “Tiarma has been taken on by Cafe Van Gogh. This is actually her first paid job and at the moment she does four hours a week. She did her first shift last Friday, and I'm very proud of her. It brings me to tears.”[Read more: Inclusive choirs connect the world on Zero Discrimination Day]

From Tuesday to Friday, the cafe serves healthy vegan food with a zero waste policy, avoiding single use plastics entirely and opting instead for compostable alternatives. Additionally, they offer a pay-it-forward policy, whereby customers can buy credits to offer a free, non-alcoholic drink to others who can’t afford to pay.Find Cafe Van Gogh at 88 Brixton Road, London, SW9 6BE.For the menu, bookings and more, visit

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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