Springboard Blog

Simon's Story

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Simon was always aspirational, but the young boy from Croydon ended up surrounded by the wrong type of people, and quickly found himself in trouble. After a run in with the law, he found himself long-term unemployed – unemployment which lasted for four years. This had a profound effect on Simon, rendering him depressed and overwhelmed by the road ahead – making it even more difficult for him to find work.

He was then referred to Springboard by a youth worker, who had heard about the work the charity does. Simon was enrolled onto the KickStart programme, which provides all the skills he would need to break into hospitality, and for the first time in many years, felt excited for what lay ahead of him.
Simon immediately thrived on the programme. He loved the professional atmosphere and real-world scenarios – which inspired and motivated him to work hard than ever. After sailing through the course, Simon was offered a job on the front desk of the Park Plaza, which allowed him to put his new skills and training to good use. He quickly bonded with his colleagues, and impressed senior figures with his willingness to learn and take on challenges.

Although Simon had faced immense difficulties, he knew that the key to success was to maintain a positive attitude and not give up hope – with a little help from the Springboard Charity thrown in. From four years unemployed, feeling like there was no way out, Simon is now completely energised and determined to build his new-found career and move into an HR position, and help other people like him to grow.


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Springboard are delighted to announce a number of exciting developments in our work around the supported employment of disabled people.

With recruitment of hospitality staff being a major challenge at this time, especially in the face of forecasted Brexit uncertainty, it has never been more important to diversify and explore new talent pools.

Challenges in securing jobs: research by Opinium found that disabled people have to apply for 60% more jobs than non-disabled people before they are successful; and one in 5 employers told researchers they would be less likely to employ a disabled person.

It is a shocking fact that disabled people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people. Springboard’s mission is to promote the hospitality industry as a great place to develop a career, whilst making a difference to people’s lives. Having a fresh focus on disability employment support allows us to achieve both of these goals – by supporting and promoting our partners efforts to provide more accessibility and equality to the disabled workforce, we’re widening the pool of potential recruits into hospitality whilst helping those with barriers to employment find meaningful & sustainable careers.

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Springboard, working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions, were recently validated as a Disability Confident Leader – this demonstrates our commitment to leading the way in becoming disability confident, inspiring other businesses to do the same. If your organisation is interested in becoming disability confident then don’t hesitate to get in touch: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Springboard are also delighted to announce our new partnership with Bespoke Hotels, who believe in a world that’s accessible for all, paving the way with the ‘Blue Badge Access Awards’. Bespoke Hotel’s considerations extend far beyond physical planning, all the way through to ensuring their staff are confident and educated on issues around disability, thereby able to anticipate guests’ needs and ensure they don’t feel self-conscious or excluded. 


The mental wellbeing of the hospitality workforce is another serious issue. Delving into the wellbeing of hospitality workers, with a focus on mental health, The Royal Society for Public Health and The Springboard Charity want to raise awareness of the struggles faced by employees in this sector, and encourage employers to proactively consider how to look after mental health in the workplace. We will be holding a panel discussion with experts discussing best practice around mental health and wellbeing and what the hospitality sector can learn from the wider business world. Follow this link to register to attend: Register Here

Finally, Springboard have teamed up with Ambitious College, DFN Project SEARCH and the Whittington Hospital Trust to provide an exciting supported internship. This project will provide ten 19-25 year olds with the opportunity to spend a year learning new skills and developing their existing skills in the workplace with opportunities in administration, maintenance, hospitality and housekeeping. Project SEARCH is a well-established, evidence based programme, the goal for each programme participant being competitive employment.

To reach that goal, the programme provides real-life work experience combined with training in employability and independent-living skills to help young people with learning disabilities and autism spectrum conditions make successful transitions to productive adult life. The Project SEARCH model involves an extensive period of skills training and career exploration, innovative adaptations, long-term job coaching, and continuous feedback from instructors, job coaches and employers. If you are interested in more information, supporting the programme or know someone who might benefit from the internship, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

It is an exciting time at Springboard as we expand our activity in supporting disabled members of our community – and we want you to join us on this journey so don’t hesitate, get in touch and find out how you can contribute to this vital work.

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Springboard’s efforts continue to help tackle critical issue of chef attraction and retention

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Last week, Big Hospitality reported that a staggering 20,000 chefs were leaving the profession every year, making up a huge proportion of the UK chef workforce. High staff turnover has long remained a struggle within the hospitality industry but of all the various roles affected, it has proven particularly difficult to retain chefs for the long-term. Iqbal Wahhab, founder of The Cinnamon Club and Roast, attributes this crisis to the perceived image of “ludicrously long hours and aggressive work environments” that the industry is desperately trying to evade. These statistics combined with the upcoming anxieties prompted by Brexit and its impact on the hospitality industry beg the question of how can we solve this chronic problem?

Programmes such as FutureChef and Let’s Cook are just some of the many ways in which Springboard is making monumental steps in working to combat this particular staff crisis as well as the wider issue of staff turnover within the hospitality industry. Having been running since 1999, Springboard’s FutureChef programme has engaged over 130,000 participants since its first year. For many of these students, it would have been their first foray in a kitchen, providing life-changing experiences and imbuing them with the critical skills required to begin a career as a chef. Anne Pierce, CEO of Springboard, discussed the significance of the programme: “FutureChef is of critical importance now, more than ever. With the recent chef shortages, the industry is in great need of attracting fresh, young talent, and FutureChef can provide a solution. The programme continues to grow year on year, encouraging thousands more young people to consider a career as a chef, and coupled with the burgeoning industry support, FutureChef can make a real difference at this unpredictable time.”

Some of the most notable FutureChef alumni include 23 year-old Ruth Hansom, who has now worked her way up to become Head Chef at the Wernher Restaurant at the Luton Hoo Hotel, incredibly, just a few years after placing as a runner up in Springboard’s FutureChef competition. Luke Thomas, winner of FutureChef 2009, has also achieved an outstandingly successful career as a chef, having worked with some of the UK’s top chefs including Heston Blumenthal and Gary Rhodes. Since winning the competition, Luke has opened and worked in some of the best restaurants in the world, including Luke’s Dining Room in Berkshire, which he opened when he was just 18. The career opportunities afforded to these talented young individuals would not have been possible without the support of professional chefs and other top industry players. The involvement of these industry professionals is key to the success of the FutureChef programme and will aid the conversion of thousands of young people to take on a career as a chef, ultimately helping to overhaul the chef industry.

This year’s FutureChef competition was won by 14-year-old Jessica Mitchell from Glasgow, who the judges commended for her “high level of skill and professionalism”. Thrilled about her success, Jessica said, “Before FutureChef, I had thought about becoming a chef but I thought it seemed a bit scary. Working with my mentor and having the chance to work in a professional kitchen has encouraged me to pursue it as a career”. 19 years after its inception, FutureChef is still making waves to improve the recruitment climate of the hospitality industry, with a focus on inspiring and cultivating thousands of young people all over the UK to begin a successful career as a chef. Gareth Billington, Executive Head Chef at Everton Football Club, described FutureChef as “simply the best and easiest way to recruit chefs into the industry.” It is the engagement of top industry chefs like Billington and their confidence in the programme that really helps to drive potential young talent through the pipeline to overcome the shortages. Find out more about how you can get involved with FutureChef here.