An Islington man who had to sleep on the streets has graduated from The Margins Project’s supported employment programme based in Union Chapel and is working full time for Pret A Manger.
Aristide Tankeu is 49 and was born in Cameroon. Two years after graduating in Law, Aristide left for Italy where he studied further, worked and had a family. 12 years in a good job followed until redundancy hit. After three and a half years of unemployment, and the breakdown of his relationship, unable to find a subsequent job in Italy, he went to France in search of work and then onto the UK. Aristide ended up living in a cold weather night shelter in Islington followed by spells in other temporary accommodation. At times he was sleeping on the street as there was simply no other option.
Aristide was referred to The Margins Project by an advice worker at one of the hostels he stayed in who had spent time with him and thought the supported employment programme might work well for him. “This was a big opportunity for me”, said Aristide recently, “living without work is very difficult.”
Rachel, Margins’ Head of Fundraising, said “Our employment programme offers real work not just training. Our chef Iraj is both a gifted cook and experienced with vulnerable people. The programme runs through the Margins Café which caters for people coming to Union Chapel for gigs and events. The food is fantastic; we get very positive feedback from customers.”
Aristide did so well on the course that he was taken on to the trainee scheme at Pret a Manger in Clerkenwell. After graduating from their Rising Star Programme, he now works full time in a store near Cannon Street.
“I have always wanted to learn how to cook. The training programme was very enjoyable. Now I can cook all sorts of things; interesting fish dishes, even a quiche! I have received my food safety certificate which makes it easier to find work. The chef was very calm, very supportive, other trainees were very positive and it was good to be part of a team. It can be very busy but everyone works together. I now see the future very positively. The Margins Project has helped me a lot. This is the beginning of a new life for me and I am determined to succeed.”
Simon Dow is the Chair of the London Housing Foundation who support the Margins team. He said: “We are very pleased to be able to support The Margins Project and it is extremely encouraging to hear Aristide’s story.”
For more information about Margins go to: https://www.unionchapel.org.uk/about-us/the-margins-project/