Islington’s amazing new cafe employs Ukrainian refugees arriving in London to boost their employability


Nestled in the winding streets of Camden Passage, North London, best known for its quirky record and underwear stores and the famous Breakfast Club, is a brand new cafe that stands out from the rest. Trampoline, a new cafe that opened in February, only hires refugees from around the world.

Founded by Pranav Chopra and Antonio Orria, the Islington venue serves up delicious coffees and food, while tackling the challenges refugees face finding jobs once settled in the UK. One of their employees, Lydia, came to London from Eritrea and lost her previous job during the pandemic. Now she is training as a barista through the program, as well as making freshly made sandwiches.

“I had a little experience in this area, but now they taught me, I understood everything. I’m fine,” she said. “I’m excited to start here because we started from scratch, you know?” Pranav tells me that another woman, who starts on Saturday (March 26), only arrived in England from Ukraine last week.

READ MORE: Incredible London cafe providing jobs for homeless people who have been visited by the Royal Family

Owners Antonio (left) and Pranav with Lydia (right), who is ‘excited’ to work at the cafe

It’s the first trampoline to exist, but Pranav has big plans for the cafe, which it hopes will become a UK-wide chain. Currently they have financing for 14 stores. The couple know what they’re doing – Pranav has run a London-based tea business for five years and Antonio is a coffee connoisseur. The coffee is delicious.

In a somewhat different sentiment than most, Pranav said the pandemic ended up being the perfect time to start his business. He explained: “As you can imagine, given the shortage of hospitality at the moment, we have so many enquiries. We provide our teas to Leon, and Leon’s HR manager literally called l other day saying “Hey, I saw about Trampoline that you started. I will hire all your staff”.

Trampoline has set up a structured training program with various employment partners and charities. But what makes the Trampoline training program unique is that it guarantees a job for every refugee who completes the training. “Typically, they’ll work with us for six to nine months, and then we’ll place them with our employment partner,” Pranav said.

Antonio Orria at the Trampoline Cafe in Camden
Antonio is a coffee connoisseur from Italy

It is important to note that trampoline employment is full time. Pranav said avoiding zero-hour contracts was one of his “strict terms” for the company. “Everyone gets paid. Everyone gets pensions, payslips etc. It’s all very new stuff for them, and it’s very empowering. The kind of stuff we take for granted, like you can imagine it.”

There couldn’t be a better time to launch the project, because since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we are currently facing what is being called the biggest refugee crisis of its kind in Europe for decades. decades. Pranav says: “It goes back to day one, why I started this. They are very qualified people. This is what people coming from Ukraine will face – they will look for work, they will apply for work, and what they will get are two major pushbacks.

Food at Trampoline Cafe in Camden
Their tasty snacks are inspired by countries around the world

“The first is that they don’t have local experience. So it’s a trap. If they don’t find a job, how will they get that experience? Second, if someone says ‘ok, I’ll give you a job ‘, they won’t have a referee, because they can’t get [hold of] someone at home.”

Pranav wanted to create something that would give qualified employees that “little push” to enter the job market. He has an open-source policy at Trampoline, which means they take anyone and anyone who walks through the door. There are no English language requirements and no hospitality experience is required.

And even his food is a mix of different cultures. On the menu, Ethiopian lentil soup, Colombian dough balls, bowls of yogurt with date syrup and focaccia sandwiches. To learn more about Trampoline, visit its website here .

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