Breakfast Club founder Jonathan Arana Morton, far right


Since 2014 we have developed a fantastically rewarding partnership with The Breakfast Club (TBC), the independent café chain based in London. As well as being famous for its fantastic food, 80s themed décor and secret bars, TBC is deeply committed to supporting the local communities around its cafes.

TBC found us in conjunction with opening its London Bridge café, and our partnership has provided committed, creative volunteers, who have brought bags of enthusiasm and skills, and vital funding. Both have supported our projects and our strategic development.

I recently met with TBC co-founder, Jonathan Arana-Morton, at one of his cafes of course, who told me more.

Tell me about TBC’s ethos of supporting charities and initiatives like Create

Jonathan – “We’re very much advocates of the idea of ‘do well by doing good.’ Apart from it being the right thing to do, it’s hard to separate our success as a business from our commitment to this. We’re a hospitality business; hospitality is taking care of people. The best hospitality businesses are built around the best people – it makes absolute sense that the people attracted to us because of our work with charities like Create are the absolute best people to work in our business.”

How and why did TBC first decide to support Create?

“We’re a business full of artists. Create were the first time we really put into practice the idea of matching our team with appropriate charities based on skills and interests. We stumbled upon the perfect relationship.”

Why do you think access to creative experiences is important, particularly for vulnerable and disadvantaged people?

“Creative experiences are by their nature an escape. Whether its dancing or painting, you get to lose yourself. It’s also probably something that vulnerable or disadvantage people don’t get access to. It’s therefore also opportunity, opportunity to potentially discover something you’re very good at and something you can build on either as a career or a lifelong passion.”

Jonathan and his team have been amazing volunteers at Create projects, making the most of their communications, teamwork and leadership skills – and of course creativity – to help us deliver empowering and inspiring workshops. It’s unsurprising that the company recently won the CIPD Business Management Awards Best Employer Supported Volunteering Programme.

Tell me about the Create projects TBC has supported.

“We’ve done everything from arts installations with dementia patients through to music with severely disabled young adults. The amazing thing is the exposure our team get to all the participant groups Create works with.”

Do you have any favourite memories of things you’ve seen or been a part of at Create projects?

“It’s quite simple, put the needs of the charity first and then everything else follows.”

Jonathan Arana-Morton

“I met a lady who suffered from dementia at the first project we were involved in. I remember after trying everything to gain her trust she just suddenly giggled at something I said and that was it, we were best friends for the rest of the afternoon. We even started talking about meeting up in our cafe for breakfast. I walked out that afternoon proud as punch because apparently she’d been difficult to engage. I went back the next week and it was like we’d never met, I couldn’t find the spark to gain her trust. It showed me two things – how rewarding it could be, but how emotionally difficult it all can be and that it’s never, ever easy.”

What has feedback been like from TBC staff members who have volunteered at Create projects?

“For the same reasons it’s rewarding for the people that Create work with it’s rewarding for our staff. It’s a release from their day-to-day, it’s an escape and a chance to do something truly different that they can go away feeling very proud of. It’s widely thought that people volunteer to help others but I think when it’s done right volunteering is as beneficial for the volunteer as it is the people they choose to help.”

What have you learned about supporting community groups and charitable causes through your partnership with Create?

“We’ve learned how to put something together that works for both the charity and for us as a business. It’s quite simple, put the needs of the charity first and then everything else follows. Everything we’ve done with other charities since is based around this very simple model, find a charity that is relevant based on the skill set you have in your team, speak to the charity, LISTEN – then help accordingly.”

In November a team of 30 from TBC, including Jonathan, took on the incredible challenge of five marathons in five days to raise money for Create. In total the team raised £22k for Create, which will enable us to work with dozens of young carers during 2017. Jonathan explained the motivation for the challenge and what it was like to take part:

What was it like taking part in The Beast?

“The Beast was six months in the making for everyone involved. The five days in Florida Keys were the extremely difficult icing on the cake. Normally when you build something up it never lives up to what you imagined. This was everything I pictured and more. The team were heroes, 3:30am starts, 90 degree heat, some horrible, horrible moments (normally involving giant blisters!) but we made it and when we all finished most of us wanted to keep on going – or I think they did.

“The fundraising gave us all a reality check during our darkest time – there are people living through some incredibly difficult circumstances who will benefit from the money we raised – in contrast we were running through the Florida Keys. Knowing that soon stopped you feeling sorry for yourself.”

Nicky Goulder, Founding Chief Executive

This article is from 2017.