How Russell Brand Is Making A Difference With Ex-Prisoners
Russell Brand, a popular comedian and activist, decided to open the Trew Ear Cafe in east London over a year ago. This wasn’t his first attempt to help ex-prisoners or people in addiction recovery since he started by launching a YouTube channel – The Trews.
His goal on opening the cafe was to try to embrace people in recovery instead of shunning them. So, all the employees at the cafe are either ex-offenders or in recovery. The cafe serves as a safe haven for people who are in recovery. In most cases, they don’t have a chance to prove they changed their behavior because of all the stigma that has been created throughout the years. So, Brand wants to show everyone that it’s possible to employ them and they will succeed when they are given a chance.
Now, Brand has decided to donate his cafe to RAPt – Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust, who works with prisoners who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. Their headquarters is next door to the cafe, and they provide workshops, training, support and employment opportunities. They have started several different businesses that are run and staffed only by people in recovery.
Brand hopes that his cafe is now self-sufficient and that it continues to provide support for people in need. As he says, “I’m donating this cafe to RAPt, a great charity that helps prisoners stay clean. If I ever get sent down I hope this will mean I get a cushy job in the library.”
Olly, one staff member at the cafe, says that his main goal is to bust the myth around addicts in recovery. Many people tend to think that once an addict, always an addict. However, people can get better if they have the right help and if they are given the right opportunities. And say that a recovery addict will never be able to work or to have a successful life is wrong. Olly looks at the cafe as a place where recovery addicts can have vocational training. One of the things that lacks frequently to these people is that not only no one offers them an opportunity as they sometimes don’t have the right training for a certain job.
Olly is in recovery and he already brought many workers into the cafe. According to him, “My thing is about myth-busting: what is an addict in recovery? When I work with RAPt, one of my intentions is to help prisoners develop some sole trader occupations … Therein I’m serving the social purpose of myth-busting: what it is to be an ex-offender.”