The Trew Era Cafe and the Future

Russell Brand has been working on his latest socially aware venture for over a year, and it has been widely covered by media. This is partly because much of media has been pretty sceptical of Brand’s seemingly out-of-nowhere transformation as a would-be revolutionary.

For a while now, Russell Brand has been campaigning for a social and political upheaval, and making somewhat controversial statements such as announcing that he didn’t vote, and explaining that voting made no difference as all of the parties are practically the same. Last year, he published his book, ‘Revolution’, which discussed many of his views on social and political issues. In the book, he called for a “global revolution involving radical wealth redistribution and spiritualism”, and received pretty mixed reviews and responses from the media as well as the general public in the UK. As well as his ‘Revolution’ book, Brand also runs a YouTube channel, outlining these social and political issues he wishes to change, called ‘The Trews’.

However, his latest project, expanding into social enterprise and business, is arguably his biggest revolutionary venture yet. Russell Brand has (just earlier this week) opened a non-profit, social enterprise café, called The Trew Era Café.

Brand has been planning the café for some time now – during his promotion for ‘Revolution’, he stated that he would use all of the book’s profits to fund a social enterprise to employ former drug addicts, and help them return to work.

Additionally, he has opened the café in the New Era estate in Hackney, East London. This is where he helped give voice to a campaign against eviction of local people in the area last year. On the estate, almost 100 families would have been evicted out of their homes if a development by a US company had been approved. Three women initiated the campaign to stop the development, and in December 2014, the plans were eventually abandoned and the local residents got to keep their homes.

Now, according to Brand, The Trew Era café stands as a permanent victory of the people over corporate interests. He wants the café to be a beacon in the community, and a place where locals can gather for social and political purposes.

True to his word, all of the people currently in employment at the café are in abstinence-based recovery, and runs as a non-profit, fully self-sufficient, social enterprise and business. The work started on the café just a month ago, and it only recently opened earlier this week. Though, presently it’s running sufficiently as a café selling well-priced hot drinks and cakes. It has future plans to build a kitchen, which will then allow the café to sell locally and ethically sourced produce at affordable prices.

So, is all of the widespread media attention onto Russell Brand’s Trew Era café a good thing? As, surely, this will bring attention to the idea of social enterprise and non-profit businesses created for social impact?

There are currently a few social enterprise cafés in the UK – a few of which we have highlighted previously, such as Social Bite and Truly Scrumptious – who all use their business to contribute to their local communities. For example, Social Bite offers a service called ‘Suspended Coffee’, where anyone can order and pay for an item of food or drink as a contribution to a homeless person, who would then receive that purchase.