Social mobility, or the lack of it, is a real problem within the United Kingdom. The jobs market overlooks talented and capable workers who don’t meet deeply-biassed standards. We’ve already taken the Social Mobility Pledge to make our hiring process a level playing field for people from disadvantaged backgrounds or circumstances.
But we want to do more.
That’s why we’ve started partnering with Centrepoint.
Centrepoint provides homeless young people with accommodation, health support and life skills to get them back into education, training and employment. Their goal is to end youth homelessness by 2037. One of the pillars of their work is preparing young people for a career. Centrepoint Works puts young people on the path to lasting employment through employability programmes, functional skills training and other learning initiatives designed specifically for people looking to work or progress in their chosen career.
This July, we hosted a group of young adults from Centrepoint and made dumplings and mocktails in our kitchen, discussing food, culture, kitchens and what it’s like to be a chef.
So, how did the social mobility event go?
On a swelteringly hot Tuesday evening, we welcomed five attendees from Centrepoint, along with two support staff (including Sarah). Once our guests were settled in, we got straight to it and started our dim sum workshop in our central production kitchen, led by the amazing Chef Meera.
With a different choice of fillings, dumpling wraps and spices: everyone got creative with their cooking. Whilst some attendees focused on folding the dim sum in ornate ways, others turned their attention to inventing different mouth-watering fillings for their dumplings.
Not only was making dim sum an absolute joy, but so were the conversations that followed. Throughout the workshop, we talked about the little things, like what flavours work well together, to more serious topics, including what it was like working in the catering industry.
Next up, Antonio’s mocktails
After everyone had finished, Matt whisked the dumplings away to be fried and steamed. In the hot kitchen, we all wanted something cooling to refresh us. Fortunately, next up was Antonio’s mocktail workshop: which would include copious amounts of ice.
With Antonio’s guidance, we all successfully made non-alcoholic New York Sours and Espresso Martinis. Antonio was impressed at the talent of several attendees, who mastered even the most fiddly part of the process: from shaking up a good level of foam to layering liquids. Both drinks tasted exquisite: they were the thirst-quenching drinks we all needed.
Then, it was time for feasting
After the mocktail session, we wrapped up the evening with one final activity: sitting together to enjoy all the dim sum we had cooked. Matt had beautifully presented everyone’s dim sum creations in a bamboo steamer basket – served with chilli oil and soy sauce. It was well worth the wait and a delicious way to conclude the evening.
We hope the evening gave food for thought to the participants to consider joining our industry. Later down the line, if possible, we would be delighted to offer some of them work experience and future employment. However, building those connections takes time, and what better way to break the ice than with mocktails and dim sum?
All the Fooditude volunteers had a whale of a time at the event, and we hope the same goes for the young adults and staff from Centrepoint. This cooking workshop was a social event, yet we think it accurately indicated the good times working within the catering industry: from the comradery of cooking to the thrill of creating good food.
We hope this event will be the first of many where we can nurture these connections for work experiences and job roles. Social mobility doesn’t just benefit society; it helps us (the companies) too. Some people have the knack for feeding people well – and we w̶a̶n̶t̶ need those people on our catering team! Natural talent isn’t unique to any background or circumstance.