A big thank you to all our supporters who have helped us win the Big Lottery Funding! We have now been awarded a grant to deliver a major 4-year ‘Pick, Cook & Serve’ programme to help address the issue of local unemployment amongst young people, especially those with additional learning, behavioural and emotional needs.
Less than 6% of adults with special educational needs and learning differences are in employment (according to the Adult and Social Care Outcome Framework) and we want to help change this! Our charity currently works with young adults aged 16 – 24 with identified special educational needs, and a limited number on Education, Health & Care Plans, teaching practical horticulture and Employment skills. Currently 24% of our young learners go into employment, with many others going into further education, but we know we can help even more young people into work. There are 50 times more current job vacancies in the catering and hospitality sector than in horticulture and gardening in the local area, so we want to help young people to find these opportunities.
This new investment from the Big Lottery means that we can build on our strengths and expand our offer, going from Dig, Plant, Grow to include Pick, Cook, Serve. We hope that the skills learnt in our new training Kitchen will double the amount of young people with alternative learning needs to gain valuable life skills, grow in confidence and get into paid employment.
Our plan is to refurbish an on-site derelict building into a state-of-the-art teaching kitchen by the end October 2017, for young people and community groups to access. This generous funding also allows us to now recruit a skilled catering tutor, part-time kitchen gardener and part-time youth support worker for the duration of the 4-year programme which means the 12 week courses we provide will be free of charge to those young people in need.
Our longer term plan is to also establish a catering based social enterprise, directly employing some of our young people, selling sandwiches and soups to local businesses around the airport. The proceeds from which will cover on-going running costs after the grant funded programme ends.
Watch this space as this exciting project progresses and please contact us if you would like more information.