Listen as Starbucks partners Sharifa, Ivan and Wassila bring to life the Starbucks refugee hiring programme this World Refugee Day


20th June marks World Refugee Day, a time to honour and celebrate the strength and courage of refugees around the world, who have been forced to flee their home countries.

At Starbucks, we’re committed to offering equal and meaningful opportunities – both in our stores and across our Support Centres. An example of this is our commitment to hiring refugees and our industry-leading refugee hiring programme. In partnership with Refugee Council UK, we have been placing refugees in permanent roles in our stores across Europe since 2017. Hear the experiences of two of these incredible partners, Sharifa and Ivan, below.

Thousands of miles away from her family and friends, when Sharifa first arrived in the UK from Afghanistan three years ago, she couldn’t help but feel isolated. Her dream - to study computer science at university to support her family back at home - felt out of reach. However, through the Starbucks refugee hiring programme, Sharifa found a role in a London store. “I’m really thankful to have learned about culture, custom, language, even having conversations with people every day,” she says. “I feel like I am inside of the community now when I’m in the store.”

Like Sharifa, Ivan says he’s found a community since joining Starbucks a year ago. Arriving to the UK from Ukraine, 17-year-old Ivan joined Starbucks after his sister had also been recruited through the refugee programme. “My job at Starbucks has helped me settle into life in the UK,” the college student explains. “I’ve learned how to speak to people, I’ve gained knowledge on how to live in London and how to make coffee with love.”

A Cluster Manager in central London, Wassila Hemamda has hired over 10 refugees to work for  Starbucks, which include Sharifa and Ivan. “I think the most amazing thing that happens when hiring refugees through the programme is the opportunities they bring. Some of them will go to uni, some of them stay with us – but you see so much growth throughout their journeys. It’s phenomenal.”

Russell Butcher, Director of Strategic Programmes and Partner Resources at Starbucks EMEA said: “Refugees bring many of the winning attributes and skills we look for in a partner: a vast wealth of talent, knowledge and experience and a diverse perspective that enhances what we do at Starbucks. We’re extremely proud of the part they play in bringing the Starbucks Experience to the varied communities we serve, every day.”

“However, it goes way beyond what refugees bring to Starbucks, because we look to create new paths for refugees to thrive, inside or outside of Starbucks. Working in collaboration with the Refugee Council UK, we’ve built a programme that delivers training tohelp refugees rebuild their lives through employment, which over 400 refugees have joined. Of these, nearly 200 have joined us as partners and 93 have developed the skills and confidence to take on roles elsewhere.”

In 2017 Starbucks made a commitment to hire 10,000 refugees. As of last year, more than 5,500 refugee partners have been hired directly to the business. Working closely with leading NGOs, including Tent Partnership for Refugees (TENT), Starbucks is dedicated to reaching this target and continues to support refugees into work.