I started to become involved in a European Social Funded project about a year ago. The project, called Pan Out (www.panout.com), pun intended, is designed to raise the profile of the many and varied exciting opportunities that exist in the hospitality industry.
Overall the project is aimed at attracting 650 young people in Yrs 10 or 11, 150 teachers and 18 employers. I am one of those employers and I agreed to do the project, not exactly sure what the experience would be, but had a gut feeling that this was going to be worthwhile.
I initially came to the project through Tim Andrews, managing director of Learn Train Recruit www.learntrainrecruit.com and I was signed up as one of the 18 employers. I very quickly became involved with the other employers introduced to the project and the other project partners: Rinova www.rinova.co.uk and Wandsworth Council Lifelong Learning www.wandsworthlifelonglearning.org.uk
In August last year I met Santino Fragola, Head of Lifelong Learning for Wandsworth Council. Through Santino I began to see the other side of the project. His work involves working with the schools and young people adults in the Wandsworth community. After a couple of strong coffees we came up with some great ideas for me to work more closely with the young people involved in the project. I was excited and keen to show that I could teach and get young people to be passionate about working in the industry.
Since then I have delivered masterclasses in a number of Wandsworth schools. I think the students have learnt a lot from me and I have learnt a lot from them!
The masterclasses have mostly been linked to working to deliver a particular community event. So, I have worked with students where I have led the planning and preparation, and they have worked as my team, helping in all aspects of preparation, and the great part, serving the guests. The students have loved serving up the food and there has been a great deal of excitement at this stage of every event.
To give you a much better idea of the events we have:
- Produced a delicious buffet for employers and young people at the Wandsworth work experience awards
- Contributed to 3 events at Leonard Cheshire, Randall Close resource centre in Battersea:
- October providing Indian savouries and sweets as part of Diwali
- December the Christmas party was great and we had fun making and serving serving the cakes
- February Dignity in Care – a very thought provoking and moving event. The students
and I showed up with the lunch!
The experience very stimulating and I have been very interested in the work that schools do in this area – some of them even have great kitchens! I was extremely heartened by this comment made by Mark Weatherhead, Vice Principal at Ernest Bevin College, one of the schools I have been working with:
“The Pan Out project has had a significant impact on our students. The range of opportunities and experiences offered has been extremely impressive. It has managed to capture the attention and engage a number of students. For some students, this has been the best thing that they have done at school and they will remember it for the rest of their lives. Yes, it has been life changing. As a school we are looking forward to participating in further projects. Pan Out is a best practice model for how to get schools and employers to work together”. Mark Weatherhead, Vice Principal, Ernest Bevin College
I like the fact that everyone involved, whether they are from the public or private sector, is there to make this project as realistic possible so that young people can make an informed decision about whether the world of hospitality is for them.
For me, it’s great to be part of this project and I really hope that I have inspired one or two young people to make a career as a Chef!