In Depth

Pret a Manger to sponsor London homeless hostel

Cafe chain’s charitable foundation giving £200,000 to offer rough sleepers both accommodation and paid work

Pret a Manger is to invest in a homeless hostel in London as part of a scheme to provide jobs and training for former rough sleepers.

The cafe chain’s charity arm, the Pret Foundation, “is funded by the sale of some products and customer donations and will invest more than £200,000 a year” in the new shelter, reports The Guardian. Up to 13 people at a time will each be given a room in “Pret House” for between six months and a year, before being helped to move into a home in the private rental market. 

Launched in collaboration with the West London Mission (WLM), a charity that helps and supports homeless people, the hostel is intended to get at least 20 homeless people off the streets by the end of the year, reports The Independent

Residents will join the Pret Rising Stars programme, under which they will be given jobs working in Pret shops nearby. A total of 462 people have been employed under the scheme since it launched a decade ago, with 80% going on to become full-time Pret staff, adds Metro

Pret CEO Clive Schlee says the hostel project has been in the works for around five years. 

“Ever since Pret opened its first shop in London, helping the homeless has been part of our promise to our customers and the communities in which we operate,” he said.

“We set up the Pret Foundation with the singular purpose of breaking the cycle of homelessness, and to do that, we believe that people need three things - food, employment and shelter.”

Minister for Housing and Homelessness Heather Wheeler said the new hostel “is not just about putting a roof over their heads but also about ensuring they have the support they need to recover from life on the streets and get back on their feet”.

“This important scheme will provide vulnerable rough sleepers with the vital assistance they need to secure their own home and rebuild their lives, and I look forward to hearing about its successes over the coming months and years”, Wheeler added.

“It is far from the first time that the firm has delved into tackling the issue - they have been donating unsold food to homeless causes since opening their first shop in London in 1986,” says The Big Issue

According to its own estimates, Pret donates more than three million items of unsold food from its stores every year. 

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