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Local youth given helping hand into workforce

23 October, 2018

After six weeks of paid training in the kitchen of HELL Grey Lynn, local youths John Muroso (24) and James Key (24) have 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 116 youths have been paid to train in a HELL kitchen since the programme began.

24-year-olds John and James are the sixth and seventh trainees respectively to complete their training at the Grey Lynn store, overseen by owner Marty Richards.

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

Daniel Woodford, 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 Daniel.

Training initiative a win-win

John, from Glen Eden, says he relished the opportunity to learn new skills and has aspirations of becoming a chef.

“I had a great time working at HELL Pizza and learnt how to oil pans, work with dough and make pizzas. Everyone was very supportive and I enjoyed working with all of the other staff.”

James, from Mt Roskill, dreams of becoming a professional soccer player. He says his favourite thing about training at HELL was making his pizza at the end of the day.

“Working at HELL taught me a lot about the importance of listening and following instructions carefully. I enjoyed following the processes and being a part of the team.”

Employer’s view

Marty says both John and James did well in their training.

“We found John to be quite a capable young man, who often underestimated his abilities; but, as his training progressed, he became more confident and was able to be left to do some jobs unsupervised.”

“It was also a pleasure to have James as part of our team. His confidence grew as he became more familiar with the process and routine which was great to see.”

Marty has been running the training programme at his store since 2014 and was one the first to get involved.

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 been permanent employment with HELL.

Active in HELL was recognised at the 2016 Diversity Awards, where HELL was presented with the Diversability Award.

Video: See Active in HELL trainees in action


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