Partnership with building firm gives students precious real-world experience

Posted: September 6, 2022

A partnership with a construction company has been giving our hospitality students some invaluable work experience.

The School of Travel, Food & Drink has been supplying workers at United Living’s Points Cross building site, near Leeds City College’s Printworks campus, with meals for nearly a year.

The United Living Project was set up to give apprentices and students a unique training opportunity while providing healthy and cost-effective food to up to 120 employees.

It has involved creating a dedicated kitchen, The Food Station – which opened on 2 November, 2021 and is run as a commercial enterprise – on the site.

An encouraging year

The project’s Catering Manager, David Ford, has seen a really positive impact on the students who have been involved.

He said: “We still have a few more years to go before the building work, and the project, is complete. So we will see more apprentices and work experience students taking part.

“However, the impact this unit has had on the students we have already seen has been very encouraging.

“As we are a proper commercial unit, that makes money and enjoys all the ups and downs of any other catering outlet, people are getting a real-life, hands-on experience.”

One of those who has flourished under the scheme is Hospitality Team Member apprentice Taylor Butler.

Taylor had been studying various courses at the college for a few years before he enrolled as an apprentice with the United Living Project just before Christmas, 2021.

Confidence boost for apprentice Taylor

David said: “Taylor is autistic but his autism definitely does not define him. He is keen, enthusiastic and willing to learn, every day.

“His confidence has grown to such an extent that he happily chats to customers about football, and a whole myriad of topics, whilst he serves them their food and drinks.

“He is very much a self-starter and when he gets to work in the morning just gets on with his jobs, without any prompting.

“We work very well as a team as Taylor sees what needs doing and gets on with it under his own initiative. All he really needs is encouragement and guidance. Some of his suggestions appear on the menu, and he will try anything new.”

A showcase for the college’s School of Travel, Food and Drink

The Food Station serves full breakfasts and lunches along with snacks, ‘grab-and-go’ items, and hot drinks, cold drinks and smoothies. All of the produce that is used has been prepared by students in the college’s kitchens, bakery and butchery departments.

The project has been led by the Travel, Food & Drink department’s Deputy Head for Apprenticeships and Commercial, Helen Lunt.

Reflecting on the positive impact the experience has had on students like Taylor, she said: “David has done an absolutely fantastic job supporting Taylor to become the independent individual he is today.

“Taylor is now about to move out of home to become an independent adult, and even planning to invest in property as he has an income!”

The project also has a charitable component and, on the third Thursday of each month, prepares fresh meals that are collected by homeless and substance addiction charity St George’s Crypt.

For more information about courses and the School of Travel, Food & Drink click here.

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