Local Kapiti youth given helping hand into workforce

After six weeks of paid training in the kitchen of HELL Kapiti, local youths Cameron Jansen (17) and Louis Edwards (19) recently graduated from HELL Pizza’s ‘Active in HELL’ programme – a scheme to support youths with intellectual disabilities and enhance their job prospects.

 Active in HELL was launched in 2013 as a joint initiative between HELL and IHC’s IDEA Services. A total of 80 youths have been paid to train in a HELL kitchen since the programme began.

 Cameron and Louis are the sixth and seventh trainees respectively to complete their training at the Kapiti store overseen by owner Ivan Shi, an early and committed supporter of the scheme since it began.

 “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,” says HELL general manager Ben Cumming. “It’s great to see trainees who, having been given the opportunity, have proven themselves able to be valuable members of the workforce.”

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,” says Krissy.

Training initiative a win-win

Cameron, from Waikanae, says that he relished the opportunity to learn new skills and would like to pursue a career in hospitality when he’s older as a hotel clerk.

“I liked being able to learn new things, such as how to knead the dough and how to work independently. I also really enjoyed working with all of the other staff.”

Louis, from Pukerua Bay, whose dream job would be to write for Doctor Who, also enjoyed interacting with his new work colleagues and says his favourite part was working with Ivan.

“Ivan’s really funny and was good to work with. I also enjoyed rolling out the dough to make bases and learnt the importance of working fast.”

Employer’s view

Ivan says that both Louis and Cameron did well in their training.

“Cameron just put his head down and got on with the tasks he was given; he proved he was capable, reliable and able to work without supervision – I was impressed,” he says. “Louis was very sociable and quite capable; he tried hard, and improved a lot.”

When originally approached by HELL head office in 2015 to be involved in the Active in HELL programme, Ivan says he was immediately interested.

“For me, it’s important to help those less fortunate. From what I’ve seen during the training, all these kids need is as an opportunity to learn and build their confidence in a working environment.”

“It’s very rewarding to see how happy they become after mastering each task. It also taught me and my staff the importance of patience during the training, and I hope that when my staff move on they’ll be inspired to help others in their communities too.”

About the training

Comprising of two two-hour sessions per week over six weeks, 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.”

While the offer of a full-time role at the end of the training is not a stated goal of the programme, so far seven AIH graduates have gained permanent employment with HELL.

Active in HELL was recognised at the 2016 Diversity Awards.

Video: See Active in HELL trainees in action


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