Celebration as trio graduate from social enterprise’s training programme

Flourish Employment Academy graduation day. Founder of the academy, Barry Allard.
Picture: ANTONY KE

Flourish Employment Academy graduation day. Founder of the academy, Barry Allard. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Three disadvantaged or vulnerable adults celebrated gaining the skills they need to work in catering, thanks to a Norwich-based charity.

Flourish Employment Academy graduation day. Dariusz Wojtas.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Flourish Employment Academy graduation day. Dariusz Wojtas. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Dariusz Wojtas, 22, Richard Chettleburgh, 60, and a women who wished to remain anonymous graduated from The Flourish Training Programme, run by social enterprise LEAP, on Tuesday.

The programme gives adults in Norwich the chance to develop catering and hospitality skills.

From essential cooking skills, to carefully producing 1,000 canapes for corporate events, the participants get a grounding in the disciplines needed in catering.

Mr Wojtas was born in Poland and first moved to Norwich in 2008.

He battled with his mental health for many years and before he found LEAP he described his life as lonely and with feelings of loss.

Mr Wojtas had been advised to visit LEAP by a local young person's support agency, and he slowly started exploring what he wanted to achieve in his life and how LEAP could support him to achieve his goals.

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He is now working towards paid employment and he hopes the skills he learnt through the Flourish Programme will help him find work.

Mr Wojtas said one of the highlights of his time with the academy was meeting the Lord Mayor, Marion Maxwell, at the opening of the social enterprise's market stall last month. IT is now up and running selling street food.

At the time he called it the 'best day of my life'. He said: 'They improved my confidence and helped me learn how to make food. I've learned there's no such thing as can't.'

For Barry Allard - founder of LEAP and its trading arm The Feed - the graduation, held at Open, was a particularly emotional day as it was his last graduation before he leaves at the end of the month.

Mr Allard said: 'I'm always inspired when I see the new Flourish graduates come through the door, often shy and fearing the unknown and then leaving with a big smile and a sense of confidence to take on the world.

'This is what it's about, empowering people to fulfil their journey.'

Mr Allard was joined by Ashley Hicks, from Kettle Foods, who helped him congratulate and award each graduate with their certificate.

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