An innovative catering venture in Wakefield, and the surrounding areas is offering a tasty opportunity for people who have used mental health services.
Catering Plus is a not for profit catering company that offers employment to people who have experienced mental health problems. The company, which has been running for about a year, works closely with the South West Yorkshire Mental Health Trust to recruit new members and provide catering to events such as the recent World Mental Health Day celebrations. They are now looking for more people to become part of the friendly and supportive team.
Catering Plus have outlets at Lightwaves Leisure Centre and Airedale Library and will soon be providing catering services at Pugney’s Café in Wakefield. They also offer an outside catering service to businesses and organisations.
Speaking about the company, Sue Chambers, general manager, said, ‘I had been out of work for ten years when I founded Catering Plus and now I am the manager of my own company. I started the company to bridge, what I perceived to be, a real gap in services and opportunities for people who have experienced mental health problems. Employment should be a realistic goal for everyone and we can offer a supportive environment for people to grow in confidence and self-esteem and develop a new career.
‘We are a young company that is expanding all of the time. We can offer real career opportunities for people who have used mental health services, people who have been out of work for a long period and anyone interested in a career in catering. There are plenty of opportunities to learn catering skills, prepare a range of home cooked food and gain new qualifications.’
Speaking about their own experiences, an employee said, ‘I first heard about Catering Plus through my social worker. I was quite cautious at first because I wasn’t sure if catering was an area of work that I would enjoy but I gave it a go anyway.
‘I’ve been working for Catering Plus now since January and I really like it. I enjoy getting out of the house, I’ve gained more confidence and recently started going to the gym. I’ve met a lot of new people and made new friends. I like my job and I find it relaxing, it has really helped me put things into perspective and I’ve got a new outlook on life.
I’d tell anybody thinking about working for Catering Plus to just go for it. It’s a great environment, relaxing and lots of fun – its much better than working in an office! I’d definitely recommend the job to everyone. I’ve received lots of support and was made to feel very welcome.’
Sue continued, ‘There are many rewards to getting back into work and we will support you every step of the way. You will be working with people who understand what it is like to have a mental health problem and we work closely with the Job Centre Plus who can provide you with advice and guidance on issues such as eligibility to benefits. I am happy to meet anybody who is interested in working for us for an informal chat or a taster session.’