Pepper’s Place Social Enterprise Cafe
“Pepper’s Place was originally called Community Coffee Break,” says Pat Hall CEO Liverpool Neighbourhood Connections. “It was named by Sue Pepper. She was doing a TAFE course here and you know, she believed in the people of Warwick Farm, even when no one else did.”
Shortly after the coffee shop opened, Sue was diagnosed with terminal cancer. “I said to the team, I wish we could change the name, so it says something about her. Carol Morris, one of our original employees, said ‘what about Pepper’s Place?’ I thought, that’s fantastic! So I drove straight to the hospital and told Sue. She just smiled…but I knew it meant a lot to her.”
Sue Pepper passed away that afternoon. “I know it sounds a bit kooky,” says Pat, “but I believe all the good things that have happened for us is thanks to Sue directing traffic in Heaven.”
Good things were indeed happening. In 2014, Sydney Community Foundation secured a ‘challenge grant’ from NSW Government, matched by a generous commitment of $100,000 a year over five years from philanthropist Deann Weir. Half of Deanne’s gift was a five year commitment to Pat’s salary. As the dynamic leader of LNC, and a community champion, it was also critical operational funding to this SWF place-based ‘hub’ to growit’s innovative philanthropy programs and social enterprises.
“It’s knowing that you believe in me,” says Pat. “That trust is just as important as the funding.”
As well as the social enterprises, the place-based philanthropy program helped establish Strive for girls and Thrive for boys to help young people in the transition from year six through high school. With a safe space to go after school, they learn how to have respectful relationships and make friends, while having fun.
Sydney Community Foundation support to Pepper’s Place helped attract funding for the new Abel Dunn basketball court which opened at the Warwick Farm LNC centre in 2016 an important piece of social infrastructure for the community. 2017 saw the addition of courtside gym equipment, and an art installation designed by Strive students.
With Sydney Community Foundation, Sydney Women’s Fund and now Be Kind Sydney support, one social enterprise has become five, providing employment and a micro-business incubator, reaching local women in need.
Last financial year ending 2019, the combined turnover of all LNC enterprises was $182,716.20. “This is amazing as in 2018 we turned over $127,970, so we’re up by 43%.”
This rise in turnover helped support 4,846 hours of paid employment with a wage bill of $145,409.65, up from $115,451.75 the year before.
“We received $56,200 in trainee scholarships from philanthropy, so we’ve nearly tripled their social investment."
“This result is astounding, remembering that seven years ago we started with 10 hours per week paid employment for one disadvantaged woman.”
Recently, the success of this innovative social enterprise allowed LNC to negotiate a partnership with Liverpool City Council to run the Liverpool Library Cafe creating new employee positions for local women.
On the strength of the cafe, the council also offered a temporary shopfront on Scott Street Liverpool where graduates of the LNC Women’s Micro Business Incubator can sell products under the name ‘The Rising Collective Boutique’. It recognises the need for additional support for women who face barriers of abuse and poverty, to pursue their dreams of financial independence as entrepreneurs and attracted a funding commitment from The Office Space.
“We are in the process of working with students from Western Sydney University who are doing an Evidence Based Research Project on this wonderful Place-Based project. Once we receive this paper we will be able to provide government and non-government departments, funding bodies, philanthropists, local business people and our community the evidence that will clearly show how together we have changed the lives of our community,” says Pat.
Pat’s success in this role has seen her inducted into the Zest ‘Hall of Fame’ in 2019 for her contribution to community, women and girls of western Sydney. She was also voted as a 2019 Westfield Local Hero. Her team have been recognised with a swag of awards as well.
“I believe these results clearly show that our model of securing scholarships for women from our funders works. The support, work experience, and wages that these women receive we know changes their lives and their families."