1724. Ben Francoise
1725. Nicola Butler
Ben Francoise and Nicola Butler, from Northampton, founded ‘Saints Coffee’, a sustainable coffee shop that doubles as a social enterprise.
Ben grew up in a deprived area of Northampton, before going on to study at Oxford and take up a career in finance and management. After meeting Nicola in Hong Kong in 2018, they were inspired to set up an enterprise that could double as a community hub and have social impact. Returning to Northampton, they set up ‘Saints Coffee’ in 2020, providing services online whilst pandemic restrictions were in place, before opening fully earlier this year. With the core aim of giving back to the community, Ben and Nicola run dedicated coffee sessions to tackle loneliness, work with schools to reinforce the importance of diversity, and offer skills building workshops to help underrepresented groups access job opportunities.
In a personal letter to Ben and Nicola, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“Congratulations on the fantastic success of ‘Saints Coffee’ which has brought so many people together in Northampton to have a cracking cup of coffee and feel part of their community.
“More than a cup of coffee, you have created a space that tackles loneliness, offers skills training and promotes mental wellbeing. ‘Saints Coffee’ exemplifies the best of society.”
In response to receiving the award, Ben and Nicola said:
“We are delighted to be recognised for the work we’ve been doing in Northampton working with local schools, the socially isolated and those who are struggling with employment. We believe that businesses should have purpose as well as profit at the heart of what they do and that when you tell people you want to help others, many more will step forward too. The projects we have in place would not have been possible without the help of other volunteers and professionals so it’s important to us to recognise that fact. For us, it’s a real honour to get to work with the people and youngsters that we do and try and help them aspire to achieve more and overcome any adversities they may be facing, whether related to discrimination in school, stigmas as adults or mental health challenges due to loneliness or isolation.”