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Hilton DoubleTree hotel by Tower of London trains homeless for catering jobs

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 January 2016

Volunteers Patricia Henry, Caroline Meledo, Phillippe Dewes and James Levick at St John at Hackney Church marking three-years of DoubleTree Tower of London hotel training homeless to be chefs

Volunteers Patricia Henry, Caroline Meledo, Phillippe Dewes and James Levick at St John at Hackney Church marking three-years of DoubleTree Tower of London hotel training homeless to be chefs

Joshua Tucker

Hotel staff are volunteering in east London to help people at risk of homelessness get “meaningful skills” that could guide them into jobs.

Teams from Hilton’s DoubleTree hotels at Tower Hill and Docklands Riverside opposite Canary Wharf have been working with ‘Beyond Food’ Foundation to help up to 300 people who sleep rough on any one night on the streets of London.

Five London DoubleTree hotels are offering chef apprenticeships to those at risk of homelessness.

One apprentice in the scheme being taught catering skills from Hilton chefs is Michael Jones, who was homeless five years ago and now works full-time through the scheme.

He has subsequently cooked at The Dorchester, worked with top-level chefs and learned skills to boost his confidence and get his life back on track.

Michael is now able to maintain a job and live in his own apartment after many years of sleeping rough.

The apprenticeship offer follows an event at St John at Hackney Church (pictured above) where 11 DoubleTree hotels donated 1,300 washbags with toiletries, 100 towels, half a dozen bags of clothes, and a vast amount of bedding to local homeless shelters.

Staff give catering training for people living in shelters such as Spitalfields Crypt at Shoreditch, sharing their skills to get them on the path back into employment.

Stephen Armstrong from Spitalfields Crypt Trust said: “We’ve had some practical help from hospitality experts and are putting it into practice in our day-to-day operations to increase our training for people facing homelessness.”

The DoubleTree Tower of London hotel has been offering training over the last 18 months to homeless people to help them into a career in the hospitality trade, including behind-the-scenes tours of the hotel and master-classes with kitchen chefs and explaining what the hospitality trade requires.

The Beyond Food Foundation creates job opportunities for those in danger of becoming homeless through its Freshlife programme, introducing people to cooking and to explore a potential new career.

The Foundation’s Greg Harris said: “We work with real people who face real adversity and aim to educate those at risk with the skills, stability and support that they need.”

Those joining the “catering taster” sessions move on, if successful, into seven-month apprenticeships which lead to work placements.

The Hilton hotel group staff have provided support to 6,700 projects worldwide since 2012, contributing 300,000 hours of community service. They hosted 3,500 projects in 86 countries in just one week last year, volunteering 150,000 hours. The company aims to complete 3,750 projects across the world.

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