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Boss & Brew Academy

2096. Natalie Hodgkinson

Natalie Hodgkinson, from Cardiff, is a former maths tutor who set up her social enterprise ‘Boss and Brew Academy’ to offer free barista training and employability programmes for young people from minority backgrounds.

With a love for coffee, and a desire to  help young people in her community, Natalie was inspired to create ‘Boss & Brew Academy’. Through the enterprise, Natalie aims to provide the 16 to 24-year-olds she helps, with essential communication skills for work, while also hoping to promote diversity within the industry. In the barista course, students learn the fundamentals of the speciality coffee industry, including communication skills, customer interaction, and résumé building.

Since its inception in 2021, ‘Boss & Brew’ has expanded and is now based at Wales Millennium Centre, hosting barista championships and latte art-making competitions alongside their free workshops. Natalie has also been working with a number of local organisations to work towards launching a youth-led cafe, with a dedicated coffee committee panel of local young people, who take the lead in running the business. 

In a personal letter to Natalie, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

“I was inspired to hear how you came upon the idea during lockdown and wanted to combine your love for teaching and coaching young people with your passion for coffee. With your latte art-making competitions and barista workshops, you have created a fun and engaging way of helping people learn new skills and build their confidence.

“It is fantastic that your academy now has a base in the Wales Millennium Centre and facilities to provide training for even more young people.”

Congratulating Natalie on her award, Stephen Doughty, Natalie’s local MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, said: 

“Natalie is a remarkable inspiration to so many people in our diverse local communities in Cardiff and has shown real dedication and innovation – not only in her personal entrepreneurship but also making sure that she is reaching out to impact on the lives of so many others. I am delighted she is being recognised for her work.”

Natalie said:

“Receiving the news that I have been chosen as a Points of Light award winner is very, very unexpected and such an honour. I am incredibly lucky to do the work I do and I consider it a privilege and a gift to get to work with countless young people from my home city of Cardiff, who inspire me all the time. Each and every one has their own unique story of the barriers and challenges that they are facing and striving to overcome. The work I do with ‘Boss & Brew Academy’ is to give them a safe space to explore their potential, gain barista skills in specialty coffee, boost their confidence and realise they can try new things and achieve whatever they set their minds to. 

“Following our ethos of ‘coffee in one hand, confidence in the other’ we hope the time they spend with us learning new skills, building self esteem and confidence reminds them that they got this. Running a grassroots social enterprise has been the most challenging thing I’ve done to date but I wouldn’t change it for the world. The recognition of this award really does go a long way, especially as business can be a tough and lonely place at times! Thank you ☕

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The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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