A quarter life crisis, lots of confused faces and the sound of simultaneously being struck off the eligible bachelors list for aunties across the nation. That’s exactly what happened when I told everyone that I, a young graduate, had decided to leave a perfectly respectable job in the city to launch my own social enterprise.
I had an idea, a simple one, that we could provide a platform where people can buy their lunch or dinner and without any extra work can feed someone else who was in need of that very meal. Along with my business partner, we set about building Share A Slice, a social enterprise that does just that.
The only logical place to begin, is to answer, “where did this idea even come from?” In truth, a simple conversation followed by some deliberation on the stag-do of a close friend (as you can tell, I might have a problem with switching off). So back to the point. My daily routine was basic and monotonous. 5:30 am, Hounslow West to Old Street, via Starbucks. Head down, earphones in, 14 hours later invert and do it again. Sounds familiar right? I was blissfully ignorant to the world around me until one bitterly cold January morning last year, I walked out of the station and a simple “Morning Raj” stopped me in my tracks.
Sat in his usual spot outside the exit was a homeless man. Our usual interaction, over the last 18 months, was an exchange of awkward eye contact and if the sun was shining a nod and a smile. How was it that this guy who I had never spoken to know my name? The answer was surprisingly simple, he had of course seen my name on the Starbucks cup every morning and waited until what felt like the coldest day of the year to introduce himself. He politely asked if I could buy him a coffee and something hot to eat, I duly obliged.
Whilst in the queue, I was overwhelmingly hit with a series of questions:
“How have I forgotten that this was another human being?”
“Had the stigmatism and negative rhetoric about the homeless switched off my compassion?”
I decided to take it upon myself to simply take five minutes out of my day to learn about his story. He was charming and witty and told me that he was lucky (an interesting choice of word, considering his circumstance), explaining that he was usually able to eat every day, mainly due to the generosity of others, but that was no guarantee. And this is where the biggest question of them all hit me, if I ignored this group of people everyday, how many other people unknowingly did too?
The question lingered on my mind for a while. Surely it should be a fundamental right to know where and not if your next meal was coming from. For some reason this continued to plague me, which led to a conversation with my business partner about how we could tackle the issue, leading to the creation of Share A Slice.
This was step one.
Step two, was figuring out what we would do and how. I hope to share some insight in future blog posts on the journey we took to get to this point, on the cusp of what is going to be a huge year for us as we move into our first permanent location and we attempt to scale the social impact we can have.