Charity calls for open minded approach to helping staffing crisis

The course running at Pathways Care Farm in north Lowestoft.

The course running at Pathways Care Farm in north Lowestoft. - Credit: Pathways Care Farm

A new course aimed at helping those in long-term unemployment to get a foothold in the hospitality industry could help to relieve staffing shortages, according to a Lowestoft charity.

Pathways Care Farm, based in north Lowestoft, has launched a new catering programme that offers the chance to learn new skills and a pathway into employment.

Everyone taking part in the course is long-term unemployed and many of them are dealing with additional challenges such as mental illness, epilepsy or brain injuries.

The course running at Pathways Care Farm in north Lowestoft.

The course running at Pathways Care Farm in north Lowestoft. - Credit: Pathways Care Farm

Geoff Stevens, director of Pathways Care Farm, thinks programmes like this could not only help those involved, but the job market as a whole.

He said: “Our priority will always be to help those who have, for one reason or another, been left behind.

"We know that programmes like this are essential to restore people’s mental health and confidence, something that has been seriously damaged by the pandemic.

“We also believe that industry can benefit enormously by embracing difference and investing in people like this.

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"We’ve seen that many sectors are struggling to fill vacancies, especially in hospitality, and this is a great way to help them solve that.”

The course running at Pathways Care Farm in north Lowestoft

The course running at Pathways Care Farm in north Lowestoft. - Credit: Pathways Care Farm

With the charity utilising a 13-acre farm in north Lowestoft to provide therapeutic support and care for people living with mental ill-health, learning difficulties or dementia, they have launched a 20-session course called ‘Learning and Growing Healthier Together‘ that runs until the end of May.

It is teaching the eight participants practical kitchen skills and healthy living, with an opportunity to gain qualifications in Food Hygiene (Levels 1 and 2) and an Asdan qualification in catering.

The charity is keen to work with the catering industry and are looking for experienced employers to come and talk to the course participants.

Since the course began in February, one of the participants is already seeing the benefits, he said: “This course is great because I am valued for who I am and appreciated for every contribution."

This course follows the success of a horticulture course run by Pathways Care Farm last year which saw people out of work learn the essentials of growing wild flowers and vegetables.

This resulted in six participants moving from long-term unemployed directly into paid employment, a voluntary position or a further education course.

Any potential employer for kitchen or front-of-house staff can get in touch with the charity by calling 01502 219064 or emailing info@pathways-care-farm.org.uk