Moose On The Loose
Question: who does the Bigmoose charity help? A) the large deer with giant antlers that roam Canada? B) lovers of the smooth tasty dessert? Or C) the homeless? Answer: C. Bigmoose was set up by former Cardiff Devils ice hockey ace Jeff Smith who, for the last two years and with the help of his daughter Chloe, has been doing his bit to keep Cardiff’s homeless warm. As well as handing out hot drinks, the father and daughter team have been busy persuading people to donate warm clothes and bedding; restaurants to give away food; and hairdressers to give free haircuts to those living on the streets. Now the pair are taking their charity to the next level by opening a café in the city that will train and employ the homeless as baristas. And that’s not all. The café’s profits will go towards helping others who sleep on the city’s streets. A former amusement arcade is currently being transformed into the Bigmoose café by a team of volunteers and tradesmen. As Mr Smith explains, “The plan is to open it, run it for a few months to find our feet and then we want to train one hand-picked homeless person in food and beverage…After the training course they will come to the coffee shop and join the team earning a proper wage and being supported and mentored by us before moving on to whatever job they wish to aim for. Then the process will begin again with the next person.” Already Mr Smith has been working with homeless charity Llamau to find their first trainee barista so that they can hit the ground running when the café opens for business. As for how the charity got its name Bigmoose, it was named in memory of Mr Smith’s former Cardiff Devils teammate Gary Cloonan who sadly died of cancer in 2007. Mr Cloonan’s nickname was Moose. Mr Smith adds, “The last few years of running Bigmoose has been a great journey and I really want to continue doing fun stuff that inspires people to live better, healthier, kinder lives”. The Bigmoose is on the move.