FoodWorks at OrganicLea
This month we’ve been wowed by Waltham Forest workers’ co-operative OrganicLea and their new FoodWorks programme.
Aiming their sights at young people between 16 and 25 who are not in education, employment or training (‘NEETS’), the programme progresses from initial outreach events to taster days in different aspects of sustainable food work, to an eight-week Level 1-certified placement in horticulture, food distribution or food processing.
At the end of the eight weeks, young people can choose from four pathways of paid training placements – at OrganicLea’s 12-acre Chingford growing site, in their grocery retail business or café, or with partner employers, for example local housing associations in grounds maintenance. There is also business start-up support, at the moment in garden maintenance or growing to sell.
The key elements of the programme are strong local partnerships, supported experiential learning and offering options, said Clare Joy, who helped create FoodWorks with the support of Waltham Forest Council and the Job Centre Plus.
One size doesn’t fit all, but trying things out in a supportive and enjoyable way opens up possibilities and aspirations, vital foundations for employability for many people out of work. ‘I’d never thought of work as something you could enjoy before this’ said Brandon, coming to the end of his eight week placement.
The next eight week programme starts in February. If you know a Waltham Forest resident who fits the bill, get them in touch with Jo Clarke firstname.lastname@example.org