Grant ‘The Polite Guy’, founder of Having a Go Coffee which only employs previously homeless people, took time out to sip a coffee and chat with Elisabeth Attwood

Having a go coffee says it all…Its all about everybody being able to have a go!

Why is this is a coffee shop with a difference?

We only employ previously homeless people. We help people to get on their feet with accommodation, a haircut, clothes, training and employment. I was homeless for a year and a half and I want to help other previously homeless people.

 How many coffee shops have you opened?

Two – the first one is at 262 Old Cleveland Road in Coorparoo and we opened another at 61 Limestone Street in Ipswich. The Ipswich store was fitted out thanks to Australia Wide First Aid. My plan is to open 50 in Brisbane.

What do you sell?

The usual coffee – flat white, cappuccino, hot chocolate and teas. But more importantly we have suspended coffees – people can buy a token for a homeless person who can exchange it for a coffee or a muffin.

What other ways do you help?

For every cup of coffee sold, we give 20c to Signal Flare. It’s a charity I set up to hold barbecues for the homeless every two months in Musgrave Park, Caboolture, Wynnum and Ipswich. Up to a thousand people turn up and the only rule is they can take as much food, clothes and toiletries as they can carry.

Why did you become homeless?

I was on the landing at a friend’s house when it collapsed. I broke my back and was in hospital for nine months learning to walk again. I couldn’t work for all that time.

How did you survive on the streets?

I sold The Big Issue and I became vendor of the year because of my positive attitude. People called me ‘The polite guy’ because I always wished people a good day.