IT was back to the good old school days of the 1980s when lunch was prepared and served by members of the latest CatZero programme, who took part in their café day.
More than 22 guests, including professionals from business and city organisations, selected from a menu of tomato soup, lasagne, sausage and mash and vegetable curry before desserts of rice pudding, chocolate crunch or treacle sponge – with pink custard of course.
Tables were laid out in rows, like a traditional canteen – with a set of school rules, which included ‘no elbows on the table’ and ‘no mobile phones’. A quiz was also prepared, to test guests’ memories of school day lessons.
All the catering team members, who are part of the current CLLD (Community Led Local Development) programme for unemployed adults in Hull, had passed their food hygiene course before undertaking all the planning, recipe selection, cooking and serving.
The café days are a regular feature in the three-month programmes run by CatZero and designed to foster organisational skills, dealing with people, working together and preparing fresh ingredients from start to finish.
Welcoming guests to the lunch, held at The Minerva Masonic Hall, in Prince Street, programme manager Pete Tighe thanked CatZero’s hosts for the venue and added: “It is wonderful to welcome you all here today. When you watch people working together to make this lunch happen, you see them grow and support each other.”
The lunch was supervised and guided by Delivery Officer Sean Bobczuk, who praised the team: “They have all worked really hard to make this happen,” he said.
Course members were also getting into the spirit of things, with the ‘front of house’ team dressing up in old school gear. Gemma Crossland, from Hull, has wanted to join a CatZero programme since it launched almost ten years ago – but was prevented when she was a teenager, as she had a young son.
“Now he is 14 and I am here, the only problem is he already wants to join a programme, as he hears about the things I am doing and progress I am making,” said Gemma, who is determined to forge out a new career for herself and is considering training to get her forklift truck licence.
Tony Conboy, who was also dressing for the occasion, has his sights set on a career as a paramedic. Currently volunteering for a private ambulance company, the CatZero programme is helping him towards his eventual goal.
“My confidence is improving all the time, which of course then helps to push me forward. I am sure I will get there,” he said.
The café day is just a small part of the work carried out on the course, with academic and vocational qualifications undertaken, CV and interview preparation and the opportunity of the short and long sails.