People's goodwill keeping suspended coffees initiative alive and well in Galway

Four outlets in Galway are continuing to provide a 'suspended coffee' service to customers who may be down on their luck and cannot afford a warm drink.

This initiative began in Ireland in late 2013, but over the past number of week's the Galway Advertiser has been contacted by members of the public who were unaware that this scheme existed. Based on an Italian goodwill tradition, suspended or pending coffees as they are known, are pre-paid coffees purchased at a participating cafe, that enables you to provide a warm cup of coffee for someone who can not afford it. You purchase two coffees, one for yourself and one to be held as a suspended coffee/tea/hot chocolate etc. Someone who needs the warm drink is welcome to go along to participating outlets and ask if there are any suspended coffees available.

In Galway city, Coco Cafe on Eyre Street is participating in the scheme, as is Pura Vida Coffee House on Quay Street, Wards Corner Store on University Road, and Providence Market Kitchen on St Augustine Street.

The introduction of the pay it forward type idea was the brainchild of Dublin based teacher Aoife Ryan, after she saw people talking about it on Twitter. Charities like Focus Ireland, Simon Community, Peter McVerry Trust, and St Vincent De Paul, all came on board to spread the word to encourage people to avail of the initiative. Along with coffee, or tea, the money on shop tabs can be used to provide sandwiches or hot food to anyone who needs it.

Joe Ward of Wards Store is full of praise for the scheme, which he has been operating in his shop for some 18 months. "I had never heard of it until a girl from the Simon Community contacted us and set us up with it. It appealed to me as a great way to help others who are less fortunate. We have signs on the counter to let people know it is available in-store and we put up the odd message about it on our Facebook page. To be honest, I think it is brilliant - from day one it was really, really popular with our customers.''

Mr Ward says it is not some flash in the pan type initiative that has gradually waned. "If anything it is more popular now than when we started it. We could have 10 or 15 people a day who will buy an extra drink. I have been blown away by people's generosity, but that is just the nature of Irish people, isn't it?"

The shopkeeper believes the reason it works so well is that for a €2 donation, people feel they are helping somebody out, it is not costing a fortune, but the money is going directly to another. "What can be a small amount of money to one person is a lot to somebody else. The people who come in here to avail of the free coffees or teas really appreciate it. We see a lot of the same faces coming in - we don't make a big deal of it, they are just handed out the coffee and they are delighted with it. There is no sense of embarrassment, nor should there be, these are genuine people who may be down on their luck. And maybe some day the wheel will turn, and it is them that will be able to afford to buy coffees for somebody else."

+If you are a customer, and would like a particular cafe to partake in this initiative, you could mention it to staff when you next visit the outlet. If you are a business wishing to get involved, contact [email protected] for more details.

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