St. John’s is a specialist school and college in Brighton which works with young people who have complex learning disabilities, helping them to learn and prepare for their young adult lives. As well as a number of professional learning environments within the college, young people aged 19-25 are offered the chance to take up work placements with local businesses. In this respect The Bevy has been working in collaboration with St John's college over the past few years to provide learning experiences in the field of catering for some of the students.
In 2013 Catherine Mulvey joined St John's as a chef and trainer and her work included supporting students on placement at The Bevy. More recently, Catherine has been working with us directly in The Bevy kitchen, cooking up delicious, nourishing Meals on Wheels which we have been delivering to vulnerable people in our community throughout the lockdowns. The pictures above show Catherine, plus Student Luke and volunteer Jessie at work and you can see some of the delicious meals they have prepared below - including pasta bakes, cottage pie, cauliflower cheese and pork and apple plaits.
Through Meals on Wheels, Catherine is still able to support St John's students to come to The Bevy and we are excited to now be developing a catering traineeship in partnership with St John's which will use a programme of practical and classroom work to help prepare students for employment.
We asked Catherine a bit about her background and the traineeship and here's what she told us:
"My name is Catherine Mulvey and I have been a chef for over 30 years, I spent most of my childhood in Africa having moved from Ireland, it was there that my passion for cooking began. I did my chef training in South Africa. Years later I returned to Ireland and completed further studies in Holistic therapies and diet and nutrition, this led to facilitating workshops and teaching cooking. I have lived and worked in a number of different countries and have gained experience from the various cuisines but always tended towards healthy plant-based food, Thai spices being among my favourite. I am an advocate for all things organic.
In 2013 I joined St John's as the chef/trainer in Scrummies which was a newly set up café and kitchen. Alongside a wonderful team, I delivered work-based learning sessions, which would feed 200 staff and students daily. It was evident that the benefits of these sessions were far reaching and St John's set up provision for outside work placements, The Bevy being one of them. I had worked at the pub on occasions with students and when an opportunity to join them on a full-time basis arose I jumped at the chance. There is a wonderful array of people at The Bevy working tirelessly to improve the lives of people in their community. Bevy Meals on Wheels (BMW) provides support and hot meals 3 times a week to families and individuals in need. There is also an amazing collective of volunteers and small businesses who contribute toward this.
BMW coordinator Helen Jones, in collaboration with St John's, had the vision of a traineeship program within catering that would equip learners with skills that would increase their chances of paid work.
The traineeship aims to empower students through social skills training, safe and hygienic work practices, and provide a professional experience in a variety of real life settings. My role is to develop, coordinate and deliver the training sessions. Also to prepare the learners for the challenges and the rewards of employment. We aim to cultivate optimism, encourage motivation and nurture potential."
At present we have 3 learners in The Bevy kitchen on separate days, for 4 hour sessions. This will hopefully increase when we have the programme fully up and running. A typical day would involve some classroom work, vegetable preparation, baking, cooking meals, dishwashing, packing hot lunches, cleaning and record keeping, and in non-Covid times, serving food to community members. There is time at the end of each session for discussion, reflection and assessment of the day.
We envisage that the traineeship would provide a specifically tailored series of tuition that will meet a wide range of learning needs over a selected timescale. It is a work in progress and the programme is still evolving.
I am very excited to be part of this venture.
We are continuing to provide our Bevy Meals on Wheels service to vulnerable and isolated local people throughout the lockdowns. If you'd like to help us deliver meals to those who can't afford them we'd be very grateful for anything you can afford to donate here →