Fat Macy’s is a cookery programme which is helping young people living in temporary accommodation to move into independent living, often for the first time.
It engages young Londoners living in temporary accommodation in a voluntary cooking scheme and pays them the equivalent of £10 per hour via a trust fund that can only be used for a rental deposit on a house.
As well as saving for a deposit, the young volunteer chefs also gain food hygiene and health and safety qualifications while getting the chance to show off their cooking at specially organised supper clubs across London.
So far, ten supper clubs have attracted more than 250 customers and foodie fans who have sampled the young residents’ cooking with events gaining most of their popularity through social media.
Fat Macy’s is the creation of young entrepreneurs Meg Doherty and Fred Andrews, and Meg came up with the innovative scheme after witnessing first-hand the issues young residents at YMCA North London were having moving into their own home after staying in supported accommodation.
She said: “Young people living in YMCA and other supported accommodation often struggle to move into their own homes because they don’t have enough money for a deposit and don’t have secure employment that will allow them to pay their rent in the long term.
“Fat Macy’s is trying to combat this in two ways – by training residents in qualifications they may need for work and giving them a helping hand in saving for that all-important deposit.”
John is one young person volunteering with Fat Macy’s. He has been living at YMCA North London for the past year and a half. He said: “I’ve always had an interest in cooking but I’ve never had the opportunity to turn this into work until now.
“Now, I’m achieving things I never thought possible. I have enough money for a deposit on my own flat for the first time and I have skills and experience that have helped me into a job. After years in insecure or supported accommodation, I am now positive for the future.”
Fat Macy’s has been running since March 2016 and five young people have now passed through the scheme. Every volunteer chef who signs up commits to 60 hours of volunteering, which in return secures a minimum of £600 in deposit savings.
This is released as soon as a tenancy agreement is signed and is paid directly to the landlord. As chefs complete the 60-hour programme, they have the option to continue volunteering or are supported to find other employment.
Meg added: “The young people we have worked with have shown us that they really want to rebuild their lives, gain new skills and live independently. I have been inspired by so many of their stories and their commitment to our programme, which has already seen a number of them show off their new found cookery skills for the public.”
For more information on Fat Macy’s visit www.fatmacys.org.
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