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The Message Trust has been working in prisons since 2014 running extensive programmes with juvenile offenders.

Sadly, according to national statistics eight out of ten ex-offenders reoffend and return to prison. Most leave prison with a desire to never go back but with South Africa having the highest youth unemployment rate in the world it is extremely difficult to find employment. Add a criminal record to the mix and it is virtually impossible for an ex-offender to gain employment.

No meaningful support or work opportunities contributes to ex-offenders feeling isolated, outcasts and with no meaningful opportunity for change.

Through our training programme we not only provide ex-offenders with a skill as barista’s but also on the job training in our Gangstar Cafes. Each ex-offender also receives one on one social work and pastoral care whilst in training.

Through our training interventions with ex-offenders who have completed our programmes we have seen only a 7% reoffending rate with over 38% finding meaningful employment.


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The Message Trust headquarters in Mowbray is registered as a Work4ALiving centre. Work4ALiving is an extensive 3-week job readiness course, teaching ex-offenders the importance of having a Christian value-based worldview and how to be job ready. The course is aimed at empowering students to find employment and be excellent in their work.

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Gangstar Café and The Message Trust have partnered with Red Band Academy who run their barista training academy out of Fathers House Church in Port Elizabeth. Together we launched Red Band Barista Academy in Cape Town in 2020, running our first barista course in October. Students can qualify for Red Band Training by completing the Work4ALiving course.

Headed up by Shaun Aupais one of South Africa’s leading coffee experts, Red Band Baristas are trained and mentored over two weeks and then placed in Gangstar and partner Cafés to learn on the job training.

We run four barista training courses throughout the year and have plans to launch the first Red Band Roasting Academy in Cape Town in 2021.

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If you would like to register or refer an ex-offender to our skills development training please email