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Valleys' homeless given jobs at new restaurant

A new restaurant in Wales has joined forces with a charity to give former homeless people a chance of work.

Credit: Sarah Williams

JOL's in Merthyr Tydfil is taking on training placements from homeless charity Adref, which provides accommodation and support for people by preparing them for employment.

They'll be given a chance to work in the kitchen and serve at tables, which will be complimented by training and recognised qualifications appealing to potential employers.

We are excited about working with people who are keen to learn and hopefully carve out a career in the industry. Since opening in Merthyr Tydfil we have invested in local people and suppliers - this is the next step. If we can give someone a chance to get into the exciting world of top-end dining it will be really worthwhile.

– Jamie O'Leary, Chef and owner, JOL's

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver launched a similar scheme with his Fifteen Apprentice Programme giving unemployed young people a first step into the catering industry.

Cardiff's Clink restaurant at the city's jail has also been successful, with many prisoners going on to find jobs in restaurants and hotels.

Adref volunteers can expect to find themselves as pot washers and vegetable peelers in their early days at JOL's. But award-winning chef Jamie O'Leary, a former sous chef at Abergavenny's Hardwick restaurant, says he hopes they'll go on to learn kitchen skills and wait at tables.

I worked my way up from the bottom and there is an opportunity for the volunteers to do the same here.

– Jamie O'Leary, Chef and owner, JOL's
Credit: Sarah Williams

Established in 1990, Adref is a registered charity and limited company devoted to eradicating homelessness in Rhondda Cynon Taff and Merthyr Tydfil as well as developing confidence and skills to help people into employment.

This is an innovative example of public and private organisations working together for the benefit of our community. It's a fantastic opportunity for our service users to develop sophisticated skills that will be in demand from a range of employers in the region. I am confident their chances of getting a job will be heightened - especially armed with a reference from Jamie.

– Dave Jones, Executive Director, Adref