The Larder Cook School in West Lothian, which has increased the number of young people trained in food and hospitality skills from 80 to 200 in the last 12 months, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to train 80 additional youngsters a year and increase staff numbers from 21 to 23.
The social enterprise, which has received ongoing support from Business Gateway West Lothian, was founded by Angela Moohan in 2010, a former community development manager for over 25 years, to help change and enhance young people’s lives by supporting them to build confidence and develop skills for work from as young as 11 years old.
Working closely with schools and the council through various programmes, including Developing Young Workforce (DYW), The Larder Cook School’s ethos is to provide a nurturing learning environment, through cooking, to help youngsters reach their full potential with skills that are transferable in jobs across all sectors.
Following the opening of its East Calder Café Bistro and two satellite cafes in Armadale and Fauldhouse in 2018, the social enterprise has supported and trained an additional 15 school aged youngsters in both sites and created 12 new jobs across all three community locations.
The aim of the crowdfunding campaign is to raise £20k to help fund a second training kitchen, costing a total of £75k, at its head office in Brucefield Industrial Estate, to accommodate the training of an additional 80 young people a year and provide more SQA qualifications for youngsters from the age of 11 and also employ two new members of staff.
Support from Business Gateway West Lothian includes 121 assistance to develop their business model and its sustainability, access to research services and marketing consultancy and training which has allowed the business to develop a strategic plan which has secured external funding.
Angela said: “At The Larder Cook School our key focus is on ensuring every young person gets the chance to enjoy a positive education experience in a setting that meets their learning needs through cooking, which helps them to build confidence and learn new skills.
“We provide an environment that is supportive and nurturing, where young people can get their first taste of academic success and reach their full potential.
“Now with over 45% of our staff being graduates of our training programmes, our goal is to increase this year-on-year and help so many more youngsters in the community get off to a good start in life with a job they enjoy and feel fulfilled and rewarded in, which our new second training kitchen will allow us to do.
“We are hugely grateful to all of the support we’ve received from Business Gateway West Lothian from strategic leadership to social media marketing, which has really given us the confidence to continue to grow and help even more youngsters in the community.”
Cathy Muldoon, Executive Councillor for Development and Transport, said: “We are delighted to support a local social enterprise like The Larder Cook School, who deliver important training opportunities for many young people in West Lothian.
“Their expansion plans will enable them to support even more local young people to develop their skills.”
Business Gateway West Lothian provides expert support and guidance to new and existing businesses, including free advice from experienced business advisers to help start-ups and growth businesses planning to expand or find new ways of doing business.
Free resources include local workshops and seminars covering everything from marketing and finance to HR and ecommerce.