The Hoxton Apprentice, Hoxton Square

The restaurant with a social heart…

Located in the buzzing heart of Shoreditch, the Hoxton Apprentice is a restaurant with a difference.  Not only is it the perfect alternative meeting place for an informal staff catch-up over a cup of coffee, a formal presentation, working lunch/dinner or a canapé reception, the Hoxton Apprentice trains long-term unemployed with on-the-job skills so they can get a real, permanent job.

A little background…

The Hoxton Apprentice in Hoxton Square – a few minutes’ walk from Old Street tube – opened its doors in May 2004. Its aim was to be a high quality commercially-run restaurant that also had a social and environmental conscience. The restaurant was the brainchild of the award winning social entrepreneur, Gordon D’Silva and the celebrated TV chef and restaurateur, Prue Leith and its location, in a former Vuictorian primary school also regenerated the building and the area.

Prue and Gordon had a simple philosophy: to create a top quality eating experience that was also a training restaurant for unemployed people. Since launching, the Hoxton Apprentice has been a remarkable success winning several awards, including Michelin recommendation in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and is listed in several good food guides including Harbens.

Since opening, the Hoxton Apprentice has trained over 350 unemployed people and over 70% of them have got jobs in some of London’s top restaurants as well as with international hospitality groups such as Hilton, Compass Group, Whitbread and…Buckingham  Palace. 80% of those employed are still in their jobs six months later.

However, what makes the Hoxton Apprentice really stand out is that  100% of our net profits are reinvested to help more people to become  better cooks, waiters and managers. This is achieved by giving all  profits to the Apprentice’s parent charity, Training For Life that has  since 1995 returned over 12,000 people back to full-time education and  employment. As a social enterprise employer, Training For Life has  created over 150 jobs in local communities.

How it works

Hoxton Apprentice is managed by professionals but staffed partly by trainees, or ‘apprentices’. It provides training and work experience for people who, for one reason or another, have found life tough. Some may have left school without formal qualifications and some have experienced homelessness or are currently living in hostel accommodation. All have been unemployed for at least six months.

Their six-month ‘learning journey’ culminates with a period of real paid work experience within the restaurant. The journey equips them with the personal and vocational skills and qualifications they need. At the end of their apprenticeship they are provided with help and support in getting, and more importantly, keeping a job.

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More details of up and coming events at Hoxton Apprentice

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About the author

Leonnie has worked with the WATC team for over 5 years. Leonnie also runs her own Design company www.destinydesigns.co.uk.

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