Springboard Blog

Why Gareth Billington chooses FutureChef

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Springboard caught up with Gareth Billington, Executive Head Chef at Everton Football Club, to find out how he first got involved with FutureChef, and why he continuously chooses to add the programme's alumni to his staff. 

How did you first get involved with the FutureChef programme?
"It all started many years ago, back in 2008, when I was introduced to The Springboard Charity – and quickly became an ambassador for them. "I’ve always loved teaching in the workplace, but like many other chefs, I wasn’t sure of the best way to go about it. Springboard taught me how to teach people, got me involved with FutureChef and put me in contact with schools and colleges – and I’ve not looked back since."

What are some of the challenges that the cheffing industry faces right now, in the current uncertain climate?
"Currently…? It’s a shortage of skilled chefs. In the future? A greater shortage of skilled chefs. "The industry knew that this problem would arise many years ago, but unfortunately, many chose to ignore it. However, there were some companies who did identify the issue, and are subsequently dealing with it well – with those who didn’t scratching their heads, trying to resolve the problem."

In what ways do you think the FutureChef Programme could help with the chef shortage? 
"It’s simply the best and easiest way to recruit chefs into the industry. I regularly get requests from employment agencies to see if I can supply them with chefs, and FutureChef is the best platform through which young chefs can get started, filling the pipeline. "FutureChef helps by inspiring these budding chefs into the industry when they are young, thereby providing a clear path into the profession. I can’t think of a better, easier way to recruit chefs."

As someone who hires a large number of FutureChef Alumni, how do you think the FutureChef programme is beneficial for businesses?"I never know how to answer that question, because the list is endless. Firstly, it’s about quality. When you have a full team of regular chefs, it provides consistency and high-standards, which results in great business interactions with very happy customers, who get their food delivered as it should be. FutureChef provides this. "Following on from this, having a full, regular team means that none of your staff are overworked. They work cohesively as one unit, getting on well with one another, which is something that’s difficult to ensure when you use agency staff. Also, constant changes in staffing means that chefs aren’t always trained to the right standard or know enough about the food they are producing, which can be a problem when dealing with allergies and food hygiene. FutureChef ensures young people are fully trained, which reduces risk immensely. "And these are just some of many the reasons why FutureChef is beneficial for businesses!" 

What are the advantages of hiring young people who have come through the FutureChef programme?
"They have already had a taste of the cooking environment. They have experienced a little pressure, having been through the cooking competition… so when it comes to working in this great industry, they have a solid idea about what it’s all about." 

In what ways do you feel young people can benefit from the programme?
"It doesn’t just teach young people how to cook, but also how to be organised. All FutureChef stars we have had here at Everton were originally shy, reserved and nervous. We helped them to become skilled, confident and knowledgeable young adults, who have a zest for life in general, and are ready for the industry. Many go on to working at top establishments and have very good careers. The world is their oyster, and it’s all down to FutureChef."

How have you improved, as a person, manager and a chef, by becoming a FutureChef mentor?
"I have learnt patience, which has made me a better person. I manage my team better, by giving more time to them. My financial results are better, mainly down to the team working more efficiently, and we have received many awards in the catering industry – something which gets noticed. It’s great to see the FutureChef Alumni moving onwards and upwards in their careers, and makes me feel proud that my team and I have helped with that. The whole team believes in FutureChef and what it does for the industry – and a happy team is an easy team to manage!"

Think FutureChef could be beneficial to your business? Head over to our website, where you can register your interest.

Joe's Story

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Joe took part in our Hospitality Futures programme back in 2017, and has gone from strength to strength since then. Read on to find out how The Springboard Charity helped Joe turn his life around. 

According to Joe, he would probably be in prison, homeless or dead without the help of The Springboard Charity.

Growing up in a single family of four, life for young Joe was hard – with him and his siblings sometimes going without gas, electricity and even food. Things got worse as he grew up, falling in with a bad crowd, which made life even more difficult. He was unable to hold down a job for more than six months, frequently used drugs, and eventually ended up homeless – in and out of hostels filled with ex-offenders, and sometimes sleeping on the back of buses until morning. Joe knew he needed help, but felt lost, and had no idea where to turn.

That’s when Joe found The Springboard Charity, referred by a youth worker. Joe didn’t feel judged by Springboard, and through the Hospitality Futures programme, was able to learn new skills, build his confidence and prove to himself how much he could achieve. His life improved dramatically with each step, and with Springboard’s support, landed work experience at the Rubens at the Palace, Victoria, where he stayed for 11 months – something he may not have achieved with the help of The Springboard Charity.

Since getting involved with The Springboard Charity, Joe is a different person. He now works as a barman/waiter at Hilton London Bridge, and his skills and confidence have skyrocketed. Not only is he flourishing in his professional life, but even speaks at Springboard’s various events – helping others who have been through similar struggles.

Joe is now eagerly awaiting his future, striving to open up his own café-patisserie with his fiancée (who happens to be a pastry chef), and to continue assisting The Springboard Charity in helping others like himself to improve their lives. From a time which could have ended in tragedy, Joe is now on track for a bright and exciting future.

If you're in a similar situation to Joe, and need some help to get everything back on track, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you're a business and would like to know more about The Springboard Charity's work, visit our programmes page, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get involved.

Calling All Thought Leaders

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London Advisory Board - Join now

Would you describe yourself as a thought leader?
Do you have big ideas for yourself, your business and your industry?
Do you care about the future of hospitality?

If you answered yes to one or all of the above, we want to hear from you. Join us as we embark on our journey to help build a sustainable, successful future for Springboard in London.


With an ambitious strategy, we are seeking Thought Leaders to join Springboard’s London Advisory Board. Led by the newly appointed Chair, Chris Penn, you will join fellow experts to support the objectives of The Springboard Charity and UK Ltd in London.
Committing to at least six days a year and four meetings, as an LAB Member, you will bring your experience, network, knowledge, influence and technical skill. All members will take a strategic outlook throughout and support Springboard London to remain on target to achieve the objectives set.

About Springboard

Comprising of Springboard UK Ltd and The Springboard Charity the group objectives are:
• Helping young people achieve their potential
• Relieve unemployment
• Help alleviate poverty
• Promote the industry as a great place to work
• Attract and develop talent
• Support HR and CSR priorities

With unprecedented and challenging times ahead, the need to increase the potential talent pool entering the Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism Industry, Springboard is best placed to drive forward this activity. Utilising the national programmes that engage young people in schools from the age of 12 through to vulnerable adults who need training and support into sustainable employment, Springboard London is integral to delivering to the national impact the organisation has.
Making a difference to people…..making a difference to business.

About you

We are particularly looking for Thought Leaders who have experience within the following sectors:
• Education – school/college/university
• Careers service – London
• National employability service – London
• Charity
• Hotel sector
• Food service management
• Restaurant
• Members clubs
• Pub/Bar sector
• Leisure

You will be an effective communicator and motivator with an innovative approach to achieving great results. With a passion for promoting the Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism Industry as a great place to work you will be committed to the objectives of Springboard London. You may have held a previous role with a steering group or board member for another Charity, public sector or commercial organisation.

What is in it for you?

This voluntary role provides an excellent opportunity for personal growth utilising your skills and knowledge within a different context. You will be part of a team that is working with Springboard to make an impact to the future of the industry; you have the opportunity to invest in tomorrow’s talent and support real change.

For more information about Springboard’s London Advisory Board and how to apply to be a thought leader, please contact….Dee Smith, Regional Director - London, South and Wales – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 07985305233