Lifehouse resident is first in country to get qualification

published on 1 Oct 2023

Lancashire hostel resident becomes first in England to gain catering qualifications with national training scheme

A Lancashire man, who was homeless for nearly two decades, has been named as the first person in the country to receive catering qualifications with a national training scheme. 

Carl, 38, who lived at The Salvation Army’s Bramwell House Lifehouse (hostel) in Blackburn when he passed the qualifications, took part in the four-module programme receiving at the end two country-wide recognised qualifications: one in health and safety in the kitchen and the other in food hygiene. 

Lifehouse resident gains two qualifications through Train 2 Gain scheme.jpg

The qualifications are part of a learning programme – called Train2Gain - set up by catering experts Aramark, which supply the catering needs to The Salvation Army nationally. The programme has been specifically designed for people residing within the church and charity’s Lifehouses. Carl became the first person in the country to pass the two courses, which took three months to complete, following Train2Gain’s relaunch at the start of 2023 after it was paused in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic. 

Carl said: “I left school with no qualifications and at the age of 18 I turned into a big drinker. When I came to The Salvation Army I wanted to change my life, I just didn’t know how. The Salvation Army became a family to me and showed me the ways in which I could change my life and through support, helped me to overcome my confidence issues and beat my alcohol addiction.

“As part of my confidence building, I completed placements, took part in online courses, cooked meals for fellow residents and received two nationally recognised qualifications. The Salvation Army helped me get skills for life and feel proud of myself, for the first time in my life; I owe them a lot. They saved me.”

The Train2Gain programme is split over four modules and there is no time limit to completing the course, so the student can feel comfortable and go at their own pace with each task signed off by the course lead. Carl attended the kitchen within the Lifehouse to get hands-on experience of food hygiene, use of catering equipment, standard checks and procedures and dining room duties, serving fellow residents at mealtimes. The course culminated in learning IT skills and how to place online product orders.

The Salvation Army helped me get skills for life and feel proud of myself, for the first time in my life; I owe them a lot. They saved me.”
Carl, resident at Bramwell House

Sandra Skellern, support worker at The Salvation Army’s Bramwell House said: “It was a joy to see Carl’s confidence shine and skills grow during his time with us and we were thrilled to be able to give him the chance to better his life, learning new skills, gaining qualifications and rewarding his hard work, something that he has sadly never had or been given the opportunity to do before; we are all immensely proud of what Carl has achieved. 

“Many of our residents have led chaotic lives and most have been through unimaginable trauma, but all have the same goal when they move in; to change their life. With the support of Aramark and the Train 2 Gain programme we are able to put our words into action - that our Lifehouses are more than just a roof over a person’s head, they are places where people can get support with all aspects of their life. We offer a person-centred approach to help break the cycle of homelessness and see the individual and not the label.”

The Salvation Army is one of the largest homelessness charities operating in the UK, providing more than 3,000 places for people in Lifehouses (hostels) across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

A Salvation Army volunteer wearing a red puffer jacket delivers a care package to an older woman

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