An innovative foodie fundraising event which supports young people into a career in the hospitality sector is returning.
Yes Chef! works with a group of young men supported by our Moving On service in Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, East Ayrshire and Glasgow. The young men learn to cook from scratch before cooking a meal for hundreds of guests at a street food event at Platform, formerly the Arches, in Glasgow on 14 November.
The event started out as a short programme delivered by staff at our Moving On project. That service works with young men liberated from HMYOI Polmont to rehabilitate them back into their communities. There, staff work with the young people ahead of their release as well as being there when the gates open to help them access housing and benefits. From there, staff make sure that the young people avoid falling into the same routines and circle of friends that led to jail in the first place while helping them to ready themselves to find work.
With this new start, essential life skills are crucial, and staff started classes on how to cook healthy and affordable meals. Spotting potential there, a food fundraiser called Yes Chef! was born and in 2017, the event was recognised at the Scottish Event Awards in the Cause/Charity Event of the Year category as well as picking up the chairman’s award.
Since launching in 2014, Yes Chef! has supported a total of 26 young men, plus the five this year, and has, to date, raised more than £100,000 to support our work. In recent weeks, we kicked-off Yes Chef! 2019 at the Tennent’s Training Academy in Glasgow – one of the event’s two sponsors along with 5pm.co.uk – with the young men’s first cooking session in a professional kitchen.
It’s quite a journey that the would-be-chefs embark on over the course of a three-month period. They go from having little or no cooking experience to spending 12 weeks readying themselves in the kitchens of restaurants across Glasgow.
We are extremely proud of the young men set to embark on this journey – they are a credit to themselves for their desire to turn their lives around. The event is innovative because it gives the young people we support the chance to develop new skills and gain qualifications, with many going on to work in kitchens afterwards.
The event’s success is partly down to the tremendous support we receive from businesses and restaurants across Glasgow. It means a huge amount to the young men involved that so many are willing to open their doors and offer them a chance to prove themselves. It is great that so many of those taking part have grasped that opportunity and found a career in catering or used the experience, and the transferable skills, as a launching pad into another line of work.
For most of the young men supported at the project, the stories are all too familiar – significant challenges in their early lives and, in their teenage years, getting into trouble with the law and finding themselves in jail. But our staff have been there for them and supported them to turn their lives around.
Yes Chef! allows a spotlight to be shone on the excellent work of the project’s staff while also recognising the achievements of the young people.
To find out more about Yes Chef! 2019 or to book a space at the event, contact Scotland@actionforchildren.org.uk
Action for Children Scotland works directly with more than 20,000 children, young people, parents and carers each year. With 87 services in Scotland, we are in communities where you live and work. We help transform the lives of thousands of children and young people each year and we’ve been doing so for more than 60 years.
For more information, visit www.actionforchildren.org.uk or follow us on Twitter @actn4childrScot.
Paul Carberry is the Action for Children director for Scotland.