Intellectually disabled youth given helping hand into workforce

HELL continues to build on its reputation as a champion of ‘the underdog’. Over four years, in partnership with IHC’s IDEA Services, HELL will have put 54 youths with intellectual disabilities through its paid training programme Active in Hell – with at least seven gaining permanent employment.

2016 has seen the highest number of trainees pass through HELL kitchens in a single year since Active in Hell (AIH) began; 31 have already graduated from the six-week course and five are due to finish before Christmas. Five graduates are now working in permanent positions with the stores they trained in, and a further two are now working part-time at HELL HQ.

HELL Upper Hutt, Napier, Papamoa, Tauranga and Palmerston North have all offered graduates permanent roles and the chance to continue learning – and earning!

“Active in HELL is about giving these young people a chance in a commercial kitchen and exposing them to skills relevant for hospitality roles while getting paid,” said HELL general manager Ben Cumming. “While the offer of a full-time role at the end of the training is not a stated goal of the programme, it’s great to see trainees who, having been given the opportunity, have proven themselves able to be valuable members of the workforce.”

Graduates offered permanent roles enjoying greater independence

Krissy Gain, supported employment coordinator for IHC’s IDEA Services and national coordinator of Active in HELL, describes the offer of paid training as “an amazing and exciting opportunity”.

“The paid aspect is so important, because it provides participants with some much-needed independence and the sense of being valued for the work they do,” said Krissy.

AIH graduate and now HELL (Upper Hutt) employee Janiece Pollock backs that up: “Some of my current goals are to move out and start flatting, and to get my restricted driver’s licence. Both of these things require money, so getting a paid job is helping me get closer to my goals.”

AIH graduate and HELL (Napier) employee Francesca Martin said: “This opportunity also means that I will be able to attend more social events with my friends, such as soccer games and ten pin bowling.”

HELL commits for 2017

HELL GM Ben Cumming says the whole team at head office is proud of the growing success of AIH and is now looking to beat this year’s number of graduates.

“The programme has gone from strength to strength since we teamed up with IHC to launch the pilot scheme in 2013. This year’s total of 36 graduates will be the highest so far, but we’ve challenged ourselves to improve on that next year.

“From Whangarei to Balmoral, we have plenty of enthusiastic franchisees willing to be involved and reports from those who have already taken part have been nothing but positive.

“The team at HELL HQ would like to congratulate all graduates and acknowledge the enthusiasm and work invested by our franchisees,” said Ben.

Employer’s view

HELL Tauranga and Papamoa franchisee Sangeeta Dhot was keen to be involved in the AIH initiative and has offered jobs to graduates in both stores.

“The Active in Hell programme has been a great learning experience for me. When I first got involved, I was both excited and nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect.

“The trainees’ enthusiasm for learning and work ethic has set a good example for other staff. They give everything 100% and proved themselves more than capable of being a permanent member of my team.”

About the training

Comprising of two two-hour sessions per week, the paid training is tailored to each participant and covers everything from mandatory health and safety education to preparing food for sale.

“Like any other teenager, those with an intellectual disability need some support to transition from school or college to the workforce,” says Krissy. “Participants also gain skills that many of us take for granted, such as time management, planning travel, keeping uniforms clean, and overall personal responsibility.”


Video: See Active in HELL trainees in action


Participating stores

Balmoral, Beerescourt (2 trainees), Botany, Ellerslie, Epsom, Grey Lynn (4), Hastings (2), Henderson (2), Hillcrest (2), Island Bay (Pilot), Kapiti (5), Lower Hutt, Mt. Albert, Napier, New Lynn, New Plymouth (3), Newlands (2 + Pilot), Northland (Pilot), Palmerston North, Papamoa, Petone (3), Rangiora, Riccarton, Richmond, Rotorua (3), Rototuna, Strathmore (Pilot), Tauranga, Upper Hutt, Westgate (3), Whangaparaoa (2), Whangarei

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