28 February 2020

Pret House at WLM St Luke’s celebrated a year since the official opening of the accommodation for people on the Pret Foundation Rising Stars programme with a party in the Pret House at WLM St Luke’s shared kitchen/dining area in Kennington. The event was attended by some of the Rising Stars, along with staff from the Pret Foundation and WLM. The Rising Stars programme provides young adults, who have formerly been homeless, with training and jobs in Pret whilst WLM provides supported accommodation. The gathering enjoyed snacks, a splendid cake decorated with a house, and sang Happy Birthday Pret House!

Josephine, a Pret House at WLM St Luke's resident said:

“I started working at Pret 7 years ago. At the time, I was staying in a women’s refuge for domestic violence. Juanita from Pret came in to speak to with us and I applied to join Pret’s Rising Stars programme soon after. I moved into the Pret House at WLM St Luke’s in September, when I found myself without anywhere to live. Since then, I have graduated as a Rising Star and am now taking part in Pret’s Shooting Stars programme, where I’m learning to build my confidence at work as a Team Member Trainer.

“The main thing I’ve learnt through this experience is about giving. Pret has given me so much – accommodation, new skills, access to workshops and counselling if I need it. I’m so grateful to be here because these sorts of things don’t happen very often, especially in London. In the house, I try to bring everyone together and offer support for newer residents where I can – they call me the mum of the house! For me, this is more than just living here and working for Pret – I’ve gained a family.


“It might not be something anyone can see, but the way I feel now is completely different to how I felt before. I’m a new person. I’m currently working towards becoming an Assistant Manager at Pret. After that, we’ll see what the future holds.”

 

Juanita Cracchiolo, UK Pret Foundation Manager, said:

“Housing was a very new venture for us, but it’s been a great journey and we’ve learnt a lot from where we were a year ago to where we are today. It’s been a learning curve, but we’ve grown to understand exactly the sort of support the residents need. We’ve recently hired a resilience coach, which we see as an important addition to the team.

“I’m really proud of the Rising Stars and what we’ve created here. It feels like a community, like a home, which is exactly what we wanted – a space that felt safe and comfortable, where residents could support each other. And it’s happening!

“We have the residents organising Christmas lunches and getting together on a Friday night, somebody cooks and everyone’s around the table. It makes a real difference, so they don’t just get that sense of community at work, but they get it at home as well. And you can see the way they’re absolutely thriving. It’s going really well.”

Roger Clark, CEO, WLM, said:

“Our mission as an organisation is to empower people affected by homelessness, poverty and trauma to make positive changes in their lives. This initiative offers people the chance to reengage with society through both work and accommodation.

“We’re passionate about creating positive psychological environments that people aspire to and make them feel that they’re very much worth what they’re worth, and through this partnership, Pret has really set the standard in creating such a beautiful physical environment. It’s very much a hand-up rather than a handout.”

 

Jude McKee, Director of Operations, WLM, said:


“The support we offer is hugely important for the success of this house. This ranges from financial resilience and budgeting to the support to network into the community – anything people need to make their work placement a good experience for them so they can manage it and become independent. Everyone who stays here saves money, so they have a deposit when they’re ready to move on. All the residents are working and in it together.”