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‘We had to turn away a man who hadn’t eaten for two days’: Liverpool café serving homeless people for free broken into twice in two weeks

Paper Cup Coffee in Liverpool has been raided twice in two weeks with the owner warning the cafe ‘may only have a few months of trading left’

Paper Cup Coffee opened last year in Liverpool to give homeless people free food

The glass front door at Paper Cup Coffee in Liverpool has been smashed twice in break-ins just two weeks apart. Image: Paper Cup Coffee

A café in Liverpool that encourages customers to give people experiencing homelessness free food and drink may be forced to close after being hit with a break-in twice in two weeks.

Paper Cup Coffee in Liverpool city centre was broken into on March 21 and April 2 with intruders smashing the glass in the front door window and taking staff tips and petty cash from the till.

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The latest raid saw the cafe forced to close on Monday while staff cleaned up the damage. That meant turning away people who are homeless and rely on the cafe to stave off hunger, said café owner Michelle Langan.

Paper Cup Coffee opened last year in Liverpool to give homeless people free food
Paper Cup Coffee opened last year in Liverpool to give homeless people free food. Image: Supplied

“At first I was upset but now it makes me feel angry because the whole purpose of our shop is for all profits to go back to supporting people who are homeless,” said Langan.

“So inevitably the results of these actions are the people that lose out are the people who are homeless. That’s what makes me angry about it.

“Monday we had to close because there was glass everywhere. We had a constant stream of our homeless customers knocking on the door to ask if we were open but we couldn’t let anyone in. There was one lad who came who said he had not eaten for two days and we couldn’t give him anything. They’re the people who are missing out because of one person’s actions.”

Paper Cup Coffee opened in Liverpool last year to offer a safe space for people who are homeless to seek shelter while customers are invited to pay it forward so other less-fortunate customers can eat and drink for free.

The café is also providing valuable hospitality training and work experience for people experiencing homelessness or unemployment to boost their job prospects.

Paper Cup Coffee opened last year in Liverpool to give homeless people free food and attracted Tim Burgess
The idea attracted Charlatans singer Tim Burgess (centre right) to work a shift at Michelle Langan’s (centre) cafe. Image: Paper Cup Coffee

The idea caught the attention of Charlatans star Tim Burgess, who worked a shift at the cafe last December after he saw the project on Twitter and it “struck a chord” with him. 

Now Langan has warned the charity coffee shop could be months from closure following the double raid.

“We are a charity that is running on fumes at the moment.” said Langan in an emotional video posted on social media. “I’ll be deadly honest with people: we’ve probably got a few months left of trading the way things are going at the moment and these break-ins are not helping.”

She added: “It’s not even just the cash, it’s the emotional toll it takes on us. We had one of the homeless ladies who comes in every day crying her eyes out on Monday because she was so upset that someone would target a place where she feels safe and she enjoys coming to.”

Paper Cup Coffee opened last year in Liverpool to give homeless people free food
The cost of repairing the damage has hit funds and owner Langan warned the cafe’s future is in doubt. Image: Paper Cup Coffee

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The charity that runs the shop, the Paper Cup Project, is now fundraising to raise money to beef up security with shutters and CCTV. Donations can be made here.

Merseyside Police has been approached for comment.

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