- Award-winning actor backs pioneering job training scheme
- Apprentices and trainees with disabilities achieve catering qualifications
- Job prospects improved for apprentices and trainees
Award-winning actor Luke Treadaway, who plays 15-year-old ‘mathematician with behavioural difficulties in the National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, presented 25 hard-working apprentices and trainees with their catering qualifications at a celebratory event on 21 May, to mark Adult Learners Week. Each one of the apprentices and trainees has a disability and the qualifications, were gained through a specially created scheme run by Unity Kitchen, the social enterprise arm of charity, the Camden Society.
Over the last 18 months the apprentices from Unity Kitchens at Tooley Street, Firepower, Lewisham Library, St. Luke’s and Flapjacks have worked in all sections of its busy cafes, learning the essential skills needed to move into their chosen careers. Some excelled in customer service while others showed culinary flare, all essential ingredients to ensure customers are happy and apprentices achieve their Level 2 NVQ Diploma in hospitality services. In addition, they attended Westminster Kingsway College one day a week to get their functional skills qualification.
This year also sees a celebration of the achievement of trainees from New Horizons and Jacksons Cafés, 10 of whom have achieved Level 1 & 2 NVQ Diploma in hospitality services. Trainee Terri Coulson, from Havering, won the Adult Learner for Work Award 2013. She gained valuable life skills, got a Level 2 NVQ in hospitality services, got a job and moved into her own flat!
The apprentices are currently making career plans with the support of Unity Kitchen’s employment teams. All will get support to search for jobs and apply to vacancies to build their careers.
Apprentice Don-Ezekiel Onayomake from Southwark gained qualifications in food safety, health and safety and first aid and now has a job as catering supervisor post at Sudbourne Primary School. Camden-based Zakir Ahmed took part in the Work Train Camden programme where he completed food and health safety training. He then went on to complete an apprenticeship and is now getting support in job-hunting from his employment advisor. Former volunteer Joseph MacDonald, from Bromley, completed his apprenticeship and is looking for customer service roles such as hotel porter.
Makalay Mansaray, a catering apprentice at Unity Kitchen, St Luke’s in Islington, says:
“It’s good. I am having a great time. I have learned lots of different things – I’ve learned how to cook fish, and pasta dishes – all different foods. When I leave St Luke’s, I would like to get a job next in a hospital, a care home or at a school in their kitchen.”
Luke Treadaway adds:
“All the Unity apprentices and trainees should feel proud of their achievements. With the help of this imaginative scheme many of them have battled against the odds to get these qualifications. They deserve every success in their chosen fields of catering and hospitality.”
Unity Kitchen is a chain of six catering social enterprises run by a registered charity, The Camden Society. The outlets provide training and apprenticeship opportunities for people with learning disabilities, and profits are used to fund further training and employment opportunities. Unity Kitchens are run in partnership with community and public sector organisations in public buildings, community centres, libraries and museums. The first café on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will be operated by the Camden Society and is named Unity Kitchen Café. www.unitykitchen.co.uk
The Camden Society (www.thecamdensociety.co.uk) campaigns for the rights of people with learning disabilities and supports them in living full and independent lives. It delivers housing support, employment and community services across London and in Oxfordshire for over 600 people a week. It established Unity Kitchen in 2010 as a sustainable and self-sufficient way of generating money to fund the charity’s work while providing employment and training for people with disabilities.