Homeless Londoner turns life around working as barista in Tube kiosk

A homeless man who slept on London's night buses to stay warm is rebuilding his life as a barista at a Tube station kiosk in south west London.

Hassanein Mohamed, of Shepherds Bush, battled homelessness for two months last year during one of London’s coldest winters.

He told the Standard today how his life "completely changed" when charity Change Please gave him the opportunity to work in the first London Underground station kiosk staffed entirely by ex-homeless people.

The 33-year-old was left without a roof over his head in December 2017, and sought refuge on night buses in Barking, after a relationship broke down.

A year on, Mr Mohamed works serving coffee to Londoners at the Clapham Common venture.

The former operational engineer, from Egypt, said he would walk around in the cold “all day”, before trying to find a sofa to sleep on or riding buses.

“Each day I was just trying to find somewhere warm,” he said.

Mr Mohamed added: “It was scary and it was something I’ve never done before, I was so afraid.

“I didn’t have any friends here or family, so it was not easy for me.”

Marco Ocampo, left, with mentor barista, Marik Avellaneda Tovar (Change Please)

Mr Mohamed has now been trained as a barista and is living in Shepherd’s Bush as a result.

After being put in touch with Change Please by a local homeless charity, Mr Mohamed is now earning the London living wage and said he has gained a “new family” through work.

He said: “I feel like I’m part of a big family, they [colleagues] know what you have been through.

“It’s like you’ve found someone that accepts you for who you are.”

Mr Mohamed said: "They do something that's not just giving a homeless person money". (Change Please)

He added: “My life has completely changed, I feel a lot happier. People tell me I’m doing well, I’ve changed a lot, I just feel happy.”

Mr Mohamed said the charity is also looking to help him gain new engineering qualifications, so he can return to his former line of work.

He said: “They do something that’s not just giving a homeless person money.

“It’s giving you something to do. If you give a homeless person some money, they could buy food or something to drink. If you give them a job, you are giving them a career, you’re giving them the chance to start their life again.”

Through a partnership with the Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL), the coffee kiosk in Clapham Common is hoped to be one of many.

There are plans to open a range of coffee shops across the capital, with 100 per cent of the profits going back to Change People to train more people up.

Cemal Ezel, founder of Change Please, said, “Sadly, homeless individuals are 13 per cent more likely to be the victims of crime and with winter approaching it’s understandable so many seek sanctuary across TfL’s network. 

“We’re therefore so happy the Mayor of London and TfL have chosen Change Please to open at their stations, helping us fight the growing problem of homelessness and giving commuters a way to change lives every time they buy a coffee.”

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