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Homeless hotel

December 09 2011
American entrepreneur to offer vocational training to 50 unemployed homeless people

 

An American entrepreneur is planning to open a luxury hotel in central London staffed by the homeless. Kurt Bredenbeck, a former city banker who founded the fashionable Hoxton Hotel, wants his new venture in Shoreditch to be run by 50 homeless people, recruited through the homeless charity Crisis.

The scheme aims to train applicants over six to nine months, after which they will either be offered full-time work at the hotel, or use their new skills to find a job elsewhere in the industry. Trainees will be paid while learning key skills like good timekeeping, customer service and presentation, as well as specific hospitality jobs like laundry and cleaning.

Bredendbeck was inspired to set up the scheme after volunteering in a homeless shelter in Islington. “We will aim for everyone who goes through our scheme to go on to get a job in the hotel industry,” he said. “Our aim is to give not only vocational skills and work experience, but also the confidence necessary to enable people to achieve long-term employment.”

The new recruits are not just being employed as free labour - as well as receiving formal qualifications, all trainees will be paid a full-time wage.

The hotel has not yet been built, but after getting the green light from Hackney council, and is expected to open in 2013. Although the venture is set to be expensive, Bredenbeck is in a good position to launch the project, who is currently in the process of selling his stake in the Hoxton Hotel for around £70m.

The plan has drawn comparisons with TV chef Jamie Oliver’s restaurant and social enterprise, Fifteen, which trains young unemployed people for a career in the food business. Crisis’ Chief Executive, Lesley Morphy, believes that the scheme could play a key role in helping fight homelessness in the capital. “Partnerships such as this are vital to eradicating the scandal of homelessness,” he said.

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