Daniel joined the ‘Freedom Project’ – Mustard Tree’s life-skills and employability training programme, after struggling to find work in the area he wanted to build a career in.
“What am I doing here?”
When Daniel first stepped foot inside Mustard Tree, he was extremely low in confidence and was even doubting whether he could make it through the Freedom Project open day.
“The open day was in mid-January in 2019. All throughout the day I sat in the corner on my own, thinking ‘What am I doing here?’. I’d be referred to Mustard Tree by the Growth Company through my job centre. All they knew was that I wanted to be a chef – that it was my passion. But I was terrified of speaking to people.”
Daniel had attained his health and safety certificates, but not yet possessed the confidence to be in a real working environment. After attending the open day and being reassured by staff and current Freedom Volunteers, he decided to give it a go and began volunteering in Mustard Tree’s training kitchen.
“For the first month, nervousness still got the better of me and I couldn’t pluck up the courage to do service. However, after speaking with Chris the kitchen manager, I slowly started to find my feet, and ended up serving up on the busiest two days of the week!
“A whole new journey”
Training in the Mustard Tree kitchen was like a whole new journey to me. The best part was cooking with spices. Chris and Adam taught me how to make different thinks like chicken curry (my favourite). I learned a lot from Norm’s recipes (a fellow Freedom Volunteer) like Paprika potatoes. I asked to make them myself, but to also put my own spin on them.
As my confidence and skills grew, I started to bring in my own recipes to prepare in the kitchen, like lasagne and shepherd’s pie. I started going home and making them for my mum.
After a few months in the training kitchen, I felt like I was ready to get back into work. This was massive for me, as I previously had trouble finding work experience due to a lack of communication and problem-solving skills. This problem went away at Mustard Tree, and the Freedom team managed to get me a two-week placement at the Renaissance Hotel, after Chris and my Freedom Coordinator Marvin put me forward – they realised I was ready.
I really enjoyed the placement – my favourite part was being able to learn different techniques and interact with people from different cultures.
I came back to Mustard Tree with a real desire to get into employment. I started going to the ‘Job Club’ on Tuesday mornings, where I got help writing my CV and cover letters for jobs I applied for on Indeed. After a few weeks, I got a call from a restaurant in Manchester to say that I had an interview. The nerves set back in a bit, but Chris helped mentor me for it, and I’m very happy to say I got the job!
“I want to follow in my Dad’s footsteps”
“I want to say a great big thanks to the kitchen manager Chris, Marvin my Freedom Coordinator, and everyone from the kitchen team and Mustard Tree. My dad was a head chef in a hotel and I want to follow in his footsteps (and maybe even teach him a few recipes of my own one day!)”
Kitchen Manager Chris says:
“The way we’ve worked with Daniel, seeing him arrive at Mustard Tree a very quiet, nervous individual, turning to the confident extrovert he is now as shown a massive change. That journey we’ve been on with him – he’s stuck it out. He had has vision and he knew what he wanted to be – it’s all down to him.”