Less than a month after their deep dive into the food industry, our Jumpstart graduates are taking their first steps in new jobs – and brimming with confidence from this Community Kitchen catering course with a difference.
Among our Jumpstart stars are Callum, Sam and Theo – each of whom has overcome considerable barriers to finding work. Callum is now working as a kitchen assistant at an independent Brighton food business, Sam is now employed in a customer-facing role, and Theo is also now working as a kitchen assistant.
The Jumpstart course was targeted at people who found themselves at a particularly challenging place in their life – without work and often facing other difficulties too. Funded by the European Social Fund via the London Learning Consortium, it offered an opportunity to explore the food industry in three phases: the first, an intensive week-long, skills-based practical stage in the Community Kitchen; the second comprising industry visits offering participants a feel for life in a restaurant, bakery, factory, school or hotel; and a final phase of one-to-one support and mentoring.
For people like Sam – who says before the course he felt a failure and had become depressed and reclusive – it offered the chance of a new beginning.
Sam – extra motivation
Sam had been unemployed since being made redundant from his job of 20 years as a hotel switchboard operator. He struggled with the benefits system and had lost his housing amid the pandemic
Sam found out about Jumpstart whilst searching online with his outreach worker at Grace Eyre. “I wanted to find work as well as enjoy a course with other people and learn to cook,” he says. “I really enjoyed the pastry making session of the course and making a complex recipe like the choux buns built my confidence.”
Sam achieved a Food Hygiene qualification and is now working in a customer-facing role. Since completing Jumpstart, he reports more confidence, extra motivation to do things in life and a growth in self-belief: “I’ve been working on my mental health. My sister helped me have a huge clear-out and I’ve also signed up for an IT course at a local college.”
Callum – better communication skills
Callum found out about Jumpstart from our fortnightly BHFP newsletter. He had no experience in catering, but was keen to give it a go. “I’d been struggling to find work for over a year, but I wanted to get a job and start earning a wage,” he says. Both lockdown and a criminal record had been making that difficult for him.
Like Sam, Callum also successfully gained a Food Hygiene qualification and he had his confidence built back up through preparing food for his fellow course participants and seeing them enjoy the results. “The group work also really helped with my communication skills and I think this contributed towards helping me find my job,” he says
Callum is now working as a kitchen assistant. “It’s the hours I was looking for and I’m happy with the job,” he reports. “I’ve increased in confidence and am maintaining my communication skills.”
Theo – improved mental health
Theo found out about our Jumpstart catering course from his work coach at the job centre. His last job had been in a factory, where he’d worked for six years, and his skill set was making it difficult to find new employment.
Although he too had no experience in commercial kitchens, the skills element of Jumpstart, which included essential chef and patisserie skills as well as front-of-house skills, confirmed his wish to work in hospitality. Taking and passing the Food Hygiene training and assessment gave him the confidence that he could actually make the move. Since the course, and starting his new job, Theo says his mental health has improved.
And, as he says: “It made me realise I can do other things. I don’t have to be pigeon-holed.”
The next Jumpstart course takes place at the Community Kitchen in December.
*All names in this blog have been changed.