Hell steps up with plan to empower

They are not shy about being Active in Hell.

SKILLS: Young Vincent was a part of the Active in Hell programme run by Hell in Botany. Photo supplied

For those who don’t know what that means, Active in Hell is a programme run by Hell pizza that gives young people with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to work in a commercial kitchen.

The idea behind it is to empower them with paid-training and prepare them for a job in a professional set-up.

In the pursuit of being a champion of the underdog, Hell has teamed up with IHC/ IDEA (Intellectual Disability Empowerment in Action) Services.

They put more than 50 youths with intellectual disabilities through it’s paid training programme with “at least seven gaining permanent employment.”

Dene Kendall, franchisee owner of Hell, on Botany Road, says he found the experience of training Vincent Choi, a young lad with intellectual disability, very rewarding. ‘

“When the opportunity arose to train Vincent, I grabbed it,” he says.

“Training reminds you of the skills you have and it’s important to pass it on,” says Mr Kendall, a resident of Golflands who has been part of the hospitality business for more than three decades.

He says he enjoyed spending one-on-one time with the young recruit. “I’d call him an hour early, before we opened shop,” he says.

“That’s the time the dough is prepared — and a pizza is all about getting the dough right. I would take him through the paces — involving hygiene, preparation of vegetables, turning on the oven, getting prepared for service to the customer and cutting the pizza,” he enthuses.

“I spent time solely with him and even taught him how to take his own order, learn the computer system and operate the till.”

Mr Kendall says this is an experience he’d like to repeat and is keen to take on another young recruit with special needs in the area.

Ben Cumming, general manager Hell says: “While the offer of a full-time role at the end of the training is not a stated goal of the programme, it’s great to see trainees who have proven to be valuable members of the workforce.”

Krissy Gain, supported employment coordinator for IHC’s IDEA Services and national coordinator of Active in Hell, says that paid training is ‘an amazing and exciting opportunity’.

“It provides participants with much-needed independence and a sense of being valued for the work they do,” she says.

Comprising of two two-hour sessions per week, the paid training is tailored to each participant and covers everything from mandatory health and safety education to preparing food for sale.

“Like any other teenager, those with an intellectual disability need some support to transition from school or college to the workforce. Participants also gain skills that many of us take for granted, such as time management, planning travel, keeping uniforms clean and overall personal responsibility,” Ms Gain says.