You might have had to queue a little longer for your morning macchiato lately, and there’s a good reason for that: London’s hospitality industry is in a massive staffing crisis. There are a frankly terrifying 400,000 vacancies in pubs and restaurants across the country. So it’s ironic that even as restaurants struggle for workers, loads of them still refuse to hire people experiencing homelessness. A report by homelessness charity Crisis found that nearly half of bosses would fire a worker who lost their home, while 58 percent said it would have a negative impact on their chances of being hired.
Now, a new pop-up restaurant in Victoria is aiming to remedy this situation, by giving 16 homeless people jobs as chefs and front-of-house staff. Michelin starred chef Adam Simmonds will head up the kitchen, after two years collaborating with charity Soup Kitchen London. This new project is called Home Kitchen, and will run for 13 weeks on a site in a former Frankie & Benny’s in Victoria station. During that time, staff will be paid the London Living Wage, provided with a Travelcard and will earn a City & Guilds professional qualification, with the hope they’ll go on to land permanent hospitality roles.
It all sounds pretty ambitious, but the success of other social enterprise restaurants in London shows that the formula works: like Redemption Roasters, which works with prisoners, or Brigade Bar + Kitchen, which has a ten-year track record of supporting 1,250 homeless people into hospitality jobs.
Still, Home Kitchen needs a fair whack of cash to get off the ground. The project’s fundraiser is currently seeking donations to help cover the £450,000 start-up costs, which include training, wages and food. Landlord Network Rail is holding the site on option for Home Kitchen while the project fundraises.
It’s a tough time to launch a restaurant, as food prices rise and punters count their pennies. But times are even more tough for homeless people, so Home Kitchen sounds like it’ll be a thoroughly welcome addition to London’s embattled food scene.