GRANT "The Polite Guy" Richards knows too well what it's like to live on the streets.
He was a successful chef, a husband and dad before a freak stair well collapse in 2009 left him hospitalised for nine months, then suddenly homeless and on his own for more than a year and a half. Now he's helping the needy in Ipswich back on their feet through a new cafe venture.
His plan is to open 50 cafes across Brisbane run solely by the homeless to help build their confidence and give them their lives back, starting with one shop at Coorparoo and another in Limestone St.
Having A Go Coffee starts brewing in Ipswich on October 1, but it's been a long road for the 42-year-old who's now devoted his life to helping others.
"When I left the hospital I had a big steel back brace and a walking frame - I couldn't work and that's when I became homeless," Mr Richards said.
"It was sometimes cold, always lonely but very depressing."
He found hope selling The Big Issue in Brisbane, where he earned the name Grant The Polite Guy among his customers.
"I pictured myself retiring at 45. It didn't pan out that way," Mr Richards said.
Then his customers began giving him clothes to distribute to the homeless and he found his calling. He held barbecues in parks for those in need and began picking up the pieces of his life.
"I remarried my wife, I have a 10-year-old little girl - it was just amazing, the full circle," he said.
Mr Richards hopes to roll out one cafe every two weeks. His passion and resilience captured the eye of Australia Wide First Aid CEO Garry Draper, who has agreed to financially back it.
A donation of 20c for each cup of coffee sold will go towards Signal Flare, the charity he operates running bi-monthly barbecues in Ipswich, Gold Coast, Wynnum, Caboolture and Musgrave Park.
"Every coffee shop is a collection point," Mr Richards said.
"People can donate their clothes and it goes into storage and brought to the barbecues. We will do suspended coffees or suspended coffee and muffins, which means when people come into the store you can also buy a coffee or coffee and muffin for a homeless or person in need."
Having A Go Coffee opens at 61 Limestone St, Ipswich on Tuesday, October 1.
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