Meet your Barista, Aziz

“We don’t always have the wind beneath our wings , but one day you will wake up and you will see all your hard work start to flourish and you will be ready to pick it up.”

Abdulazziz, known by friends, family, and partners (employees) as Aziz, because, in his own words, “my name is really long”, arrived in the UK just over one year ago. Growing up in Homs, Syria, until the age of 13, Aziz fled with his family to Amman, Jordan, to continue his studies. Whilst studying Aziz juggled two jobs, one in a shop selling nuts, the other distributing newspapers.

“It was really difficult” Aziz said, “but, looking back, I can see and feel how that experience changed my personality to become a more independent person.”

Fast forward to May 2019 and Aziz landed in the UK, he explained how he felt “stabilised” for the first time. “Everyone feels lonely at the beginning, but I had my family and we were all going through the experience together”.

Aziz’s first seven-months were spent getting to grips with the English language, “seven-months was enough time for me to understand English as well as other people understand me”. It was then time for Aziz to look for employment and start using his newly acquired English skills.

With the help of the Refugee Council, Aziz secured an interview at Starbucks. Despite almost going to the wrong Starbucks store – he recalls: “It was like something from a movie, how could I go to the wrong store!” – Aziz passed his interview with flying colours and, in March, donned his green apron for the first time.

“My journey at Starbucks has been the greatest thing ever, finding a company which respects you, gives you all the support that you need, you really feel like one big family with all the partners, it feels more than just a workplace. My store partners are always helping me with new words and my managers are really kind to me, giving me all the support that I need. Starbucks has a welcoming environment and I feel welcomed here”.

Then, the global pandemic hit, and while so many of us turned to TV to pass the time, Aziz has used the time to memorise Starbucks beverage recipes and finesse his barista skills. Aziz will be back in store behind the bar next week, ready to serve customers their favourite drinks. An ambitious partner, he is working towards being a supervisor but also not giving up on his lifelong goal of becoming a filmmaker.

“We don’t always have the wind beneath our wings , but one day you will wake up and you will see all your hard work start to flourish and you will be ready to pick it up.”


Working in partnership with a number of NGO partners such as Refugee Council, Starbucks has now placed over 600 refugees into permanent roles in the business around Europe as part of a commitment to hire 2,500 refugees across Western Europe.   

Andrew Lawton, Head of Integration at the Refugee Council, said: “Refugees bring an incredible wealth of skills, knowledge and experience to the UK which is hugely beneficial to society, but for various reasons they often need additional support to find work and apply their talents here. There’s real scope for businesses to benefit from a committed and enthusiastic workforce by supporting refugees who are desperate to rebuild their lives and start working again.

That’s why our partnership with Starbucks is so effective – it’s all about us working with refugees, like Aziz, to fully equip them to prepare for the really vital step of landing their first job, and Starbucks offering a unique insight into their business and the skills and qualities they look for from prospective candidates.”

Through a combination of benefits, Starbucks supports all partners with career and personal development in and out of work. All those who have been with the business for over three months can apply for a rental deposit loan through Home Sweet Loan to help make moving easier, and when it comes to education, there’s apprenticeships available up to Level 6 or the Arizona State University courses, offering free access to over 40 online degrees. 

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