Tuesday 10th July 2018
We have been running our Rising Stars programme for 10 years and have given jobs to over 400 ex-homeless people since we started. We’ve found it to be the single most effective way to help break the cycle of homelessness – a job can give someone the stability they really need.
Every summer I take a group of our Rising Stars to Austria to hike up a mountain together. We do this to celebrate their graduation from an 8-month programme that aims to give them the skills and confidence they need to keep developing at Pret (or wherever they want to go next).
Climbing Grosser Rettenstein with a team of Rising Stars
Two years ago on our hike, one of the Stars, Victor, came up with the idea of a Pret shop run exclusively by Rising Stars. My fellow hikers were enthusiastic. It would be a statement about how far they had come and how far they can go. More than that, it would be a shop dedicated to training up new Rising Stars – giving our graduates the opportunity to help others to turn their lives around, just as they have.
Our shop idea lost momentum when we returned home. People pointed out that we didn’t have enough Rising Stars at a management level to actually run the shop. Others felt we might be leaving them too exposed, as we are usually careful to integrate Rising Stars into our shop teams.
Today we celebrate 10 years of the programme and I’m pleased to say the situation has changed. We are very proud that enough Rising Stars have now developed through the ranks to become Managers, Team Leaders, Baristas and Hot Chefs. This means we can now build what we like to call a ‘family tree’ – the ideal team structure to run a Pret shop.
Our graduated Rising Stars are so proud of what they’ve achieved. They want to show what they’re capable of and become mentors to those joining our unique programme. They feel that a Rising Stars shop would be the perfect place to do this. They also hope it would encourage other companies to employ more people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
We have learned so much in 10 years of running this programme and it feels like the right time to give our Stars their next challenge and opportunity… Watch this space!