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Glesga Roasters/Facebook/James Faddes
Glesga Roasters/Facebook/James Faddes
UK News

How a Christian pastor's using coffee to help rehabilitate prisoners in Scotland

by Chantalle Edmunds

The humble coffee bean is being used in Glasgow as a tool for rehabilitation, mentoring, employability and community.

Pastor James Faddes, 47, of Bishopbriggs Community Church set up a coffee company called Glesga Roasters following a trip to Rwanda where he saw coffee plantations and was inspired to think about importing coffee to sell in Scotland. 

"I remember posing the question at that time, to one of the team leaders that I was with, has anybody ever considered importing Rwandan coffee to Scotland and roasting it and using that as a support as a means of raising awareness of the charitable work they were a part of? And the answer that thing was No, not really. It's not that it's not that kind of lucrative and all that kind of stuff," James told Premier.

Not to be put off, James decided to pursue the idea, not only to bring good coffee to Glasgow but also to be used as a way to assist in the rehabiliatation of prisoners.

"I've been involved in present chaplaincy work as a volunteer chaplain for many, many years for coming up to 30 years. And I know that there's always a desire for opportunities to mentor and train to help people find employment... So I just took it on as a hobby, initially roasting coffee in my kitchen. And from there, actually, it was my friend who gave me his old pan roaster. And from there developed and bought a bigger roaster. I had to say to my wife, don't you worry, we'll make the money back within the within the year, and that will cover my coffee budget for the year. And I think she just thought I was on a bit of a bit of a whim. But no, no, we actually we actually did that we broke even."

"And it was at that point, I spoke to my church leadership team and said, look, I think we've got something that we should bring under the charitable umbrella of the church here. And we we've been using coffee roasting, to reach out into our community have been roasting and tasting workshops, inviting people to come along. And we both myself, and particularly one man that have been mentoring, but we have other folks that have been involved in the project. And we've been having the opportunity to share our story and give people a chance to taste the number of different single origin coffees. 

Glesga Roasters has now grown from roasting 1kg to 5kg per day and 20kg to 100kg a month.

"We were invited during prisoners week last year to go in and run it for live workshops with a number of inmates from the prison. And it's just been a great opportunity to do something positive that you can do."

Father-of-four James told Premier how his own background has made him determined to help others who find themselves on the wrong side of the law. 

"I came to faith as a young 17 year old boy who had attended a Sunday evening chapel service, and the local young offenders institution. It was the prison chaplain and young Christians from the local universities and from the local churches that were sharing the gospel. And I had the gospel that night in a way that really connected with me, I had never grown up in a Christian family, or certainly a loving family, hard working family, but I had never really heard the gospel in a way that broke through to me and and I came to faith as a 17 year old, young person and having served a string of short term sentences.

"I want to see there's hope people can change. There's real opportunities. And the thing that I found is that there's hope and Jesus Christ, there's hope in the Gospel, I found forgiveness, I found relationships within the local church where they left me back to life, I found opportunities to serve and volunteer and be mentored. And that was the real impact that the god walked through the local church to bring transformation in my life."

One of Glesga Roasters' first apprentices, Adam Inglis, also from Glasgow runs the prison workshops along with James. 

Adam, who also served terms in young offenders' institutes and prison, has seen first hand the restorative power of getting involved in coffee production.

He started working for Street Connect Glasgow, a charity that works with the marginalised and vulnerable, the route through which he connected with James and Glesga Roasters. 

Adam now works full time with James and shares his vision for rehabilitating prisoners.

"We believe that these are men and women who have got potential and they've got skills, and they've got so much, there's so much treasure locked up within them. And they just need an opportunity."

"We can't really say that we've got a measure of what would the long term impacts be of that workshop in the jail. But what we are hoping is that when they're released, and when they're looking for a community of recovery, where they can find some friends and find opportunities to learn the new skill will be there for them," James added.

They also hope to replicate the scheme across the UK and are in talks with other agencies who work with offenders.

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