Former homeless woman repays kindness with coffee for Leamington’s homeless

Some of the staff at TJ's: Andy Richardson, Basia Guzniczak, Craig King and Dominika Salamon.
Some of the staff at TJ's: Andy Richardson, Basia Guzniczak, Craig King and Dominika Salamon.

A Leamington woman who was homeless is paying back the kindness she received by launching a pay-it-forward scheme – where someone buys a coffee and pays for an extra one to be given to the homeless.

Nine years ago 27-year-old Basia Guzniczak found herself homeless and pregnant after losing her job.

Luckily for the mum-to-be local people in Leamington heard about her situation and offered to help.

She said: “Nine years ago I found myself pregnant with no job and homeless. One day someone heard about me and decided to help me.

“Two weeks before my son was born I had everything I needed. Someone also offered me a house and let me pay rent when I went back to work.”

After she was helped by kind strangers, Basia was determined to do the same for other people.

She said: “After that point I wanted to help people out and I promised myself that I would repay my debt and help others in whatever way I can.”

Basia, who is now 36, and originally from Poland, started her new job role as manager at TJ’s bar and grill three weeks ago. The bar and restaurant, on Bath Street, donates vegetarian meals once a week to the homeless who use the Leamington winter support night shelter.

Despite the regular donation, Basia wanted to do more to help the homeless in the town. She said: “I don’t think it costs anything to be nice to people and we have got to give something back. I was doing research on what things we could do. We already work with the shelter by giving them hot food once a week but I wanted to do more.

“I came across an idea that was originally in Italy called suspended coffee, where you get customers to buy a second coffee and a homeless person can have it.”

After finding the suspended coffee scheme Basia pushed forward with starting it at TJ’s.

“We posted online and started spreading the word about the idea a couple of days ago and I am surprised at the response we are getting,” she said.

“This idea is great because you get to give something back. People from Leamington helped me out when I really needed it so I would like to give something back. It doesn’t cost a lot to do this but for that homeless person it could mean a lot.

“I would like to spread the word and the idea of people buying that drink. This is only the beginning and I would like to put this across to everyone and hope that people will be following this idea for themselves because every little helps.”

The suspended coffee idea is not the first pay-it-forward scheme that has been introduced in Leamington to help the homeless. The Mashed Swedes cafe on Russell Street has been offering a pay-it-forward scheme where customers can buy a suspended meal for someone.

Pinky Sidhu, of Leamington winter support night shelter, said: “We are pleased that local businesses are supporting the homeless. It is creating awareness for everybody that is a paying customer for businesses locally. We are fortunate at the shelter that other businesses donate food each week.”