Big Issue Invest Restaurant Project Brings Hope and Employment to People Sleeping Rough in London

Major financial boost for world’s first fine-dining restaurant to be staffed by homeless people. 

Big Issue

A six-figure investment from Big Issue Invest is helping to kick-start a social initiative giving homeless people employment at a fine-dining restaurant.

The staff at Home Kitchen, a new restaurant in Primrose Hill, north-west London, are all struggling with the scourge of homelessness — sleeping rough, sofa-surfing, or living in unstable accommodation. The scheme is a bid to tackle homelessness and hospitality staffing shortages in one dramatic swoop.

Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of the Big Issue Group, has put £210,000 into the project, which will see the recruits working side-by-side with Michelin-starred executive chef Adam Simmonds.

The restaurant will open its doors in September, says Big Issue Invest CEO Danyal Sattar. The venture would “bring change through enterprise”, he said, and give underprivileged people a route into the hospitality industry.

Big Issue’s Blueprint To End Poverty is calling on the UK government to implement a range of policies, including investment in education and skills training, to support a back-to-work drive with “confidence-building approaches”. The overriding aim is to end rough sleeping by 2030.

“The solution that Home Kitchen has cooked up certainly has the ingredients to help achieve those goals,” quipped Simmonds, adding: “It will be an accelerant out of poverty for our recruits, and an incubator of untapped talent for the catering industry.

“The restaurant business is an ideal vehicle for our social impact. If you can change perceptions in this world, then you can do it in any other walk of life.”

Home Kitchen’s recruits will receive full-time contracts at London Living Wage, travel expenses, and two tranches of training. After a 90-day probationary period at Home Kitchen, they will go on to Westminster Kingsway College. There, they will study for professional culinary skills certification in addition to the on-the-job training under the watchful eye of Simmonds.

The initial brigade will be 16 strong, supported by a head chef, general manager, assistant general manager, and a hands-on leadership team with wide experience in the “third sector” — the charities, social enterprises and community groups delivering essential services, improving individual wellbeing, and contributing to economic growth. The recruits will also learn about fine and casual dining, marketing and advertising, catering, hospitality, and event management.

Big Issue Invest, founded in 2005, offers loans and investments — ranging in size from £20,000 to £4m — to social enterprises and charities across Britain. A full 90 percent of that goes to organisations creating core solutions to end poverty.

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