Food for the Soul

E. Smith Service user stories

A college cooking course has raised the ambitions of one of our former Night Shelter residents. Raymond slept in the 999 Club Night Shelter last year, and for him, the shelter was the first step away from homelessness. He now has his own flat.

999 Club stopped me going off key,’ he says. ‘I spent a lot of time on the buses. Being homeless is not a nice thing. You can’t imagine it, nowhere to clean your teeth, use the toilet, you’re cold, hungry. You should see my bathroom now I have my own place. It shines!’

Once settled in his flat, Raymond joined an accredited cooking course at a local college. The certificate will enable him to apply for jobs in professional kitchens. ‘I’m good at preparing good food,’ says Raymond, ‘I always have been, and I wanted more insight on how to do it professionally. This is the first step.’

He dropped in to the 999 Club to let us know how he was doing, and showed us the formidable food handling health and safety course handbook that he was learning for his exams. But following the menu has been a challenge for such a seasoned cook, Raymond has been used to creating his own meals, adjusting the ingredients to taste. On the course, he has to follow the recipe to the letter.

We asked Raymond what he’d like to do after the course. ‘Celebrity Chef,’ he responded with a wink. But his immediate plans are more practical. Raymond has only very basic computer skills, and will be attending another course to become more comfortable online. ‘Once you’ve mastered the computer, you can do anything,’ he says, ‘because you can do a correspondence course.’

We wish Raymond the best of luck in his exams, and look forward to hearing what he decides to do next!

*Name changed for reasons of confidentiality