The Royal Foundation of St. Katharine’s is a retreat house and conference centre which offers people far and wide the opportunity having a relaxing stay, offers companies and business meeting and conference space and offers the communities of Shadwell, Stepney and Limehouse a space to get away from urban life.
The Tower Project has worked with St Katharine’s for a number of years and offers employment and internship opportunities for those working with JET (Job Enterprise and Training).
Now in its third year, JET works with the local schools around the area. Annette Eccleston, Group Leader, Teaching Assistant and Job Coach for the Phoenix School helps with the internship scheme. She said that the internship gives people a great experience for those wanting to get into hospitality, “They are doing a fantastic job… the Tower Project is giving them a good grounding to go into further education or employment and if they decide to go into employment the skills they’ve acquired is massively beneficial…It’s not something they don’t look forward to.”
One of the people under the JET internship is Keeley Webber who assists with the running of reception. Her duties include giving tours of the retreat to customers, greeting, assisting with emails, answering phones and checking people in and out. Keeley says that she, “likes the staff there,” and that it’s given her the confidence to talk to other people.
Speaking to Jonathan Byrne, Operations Director at the Royal Foundation of St. Katharine’s, he had this to say about the Tower Project:
How did you get involved with the Tower Project?
The Royal Foundation of St Katharine has three guiding principles – Worship, Hospitality and Service. To serve the local community we reached out to other local charities and found out about the great work the Tower Project undertakes with young people.
How have found working with the Tower Project?
Rewarding and revealing. The team at St Katharine’s had all requested Disability Awareness training as part of their training needs. Working with the young people from Tower Project has been the most effective way to deliver the requirement. Rather than attending a short awareness course the practicality of working alongside the young people has taught us all new communication and engagement skills. Seeing how the young people develop is truly rewarding. We have also had great fun.
What kind of things have the people working at the Retreat House and Conference Centre from the Tower Project had to do?
The young people have a rolling six week programme where they gain experience in several departments; initially observing; then learning and finally working as a member of the team. The Tower Projects young people have worked on Reception with the Guest Services Team welcoming guests; serving Food & Beverages in both the Dining Room and Yurt Cafe; Servicing Rooms with the Housekeeping Department and Gardening alongside our Community Gardener. St Katharine’s HR Manager has also given interview skills training and we have role played interviews to ensure the Young People are equipped to secure full time employment after their year with The Foundation.
What would you say to other companies and establishments looking into working with something like the Tower Project?
It’s worth it from so many perspectives. Many companies and organisations have lofty sounding CSR objectives; working with Tower Project means you genuinely and tangibly deliver ‘Service to the community’. You learn so much about yourself, your skills and communication style. The reward through seeing the young people develop, overcome obstacles and thrive is immeasurable. Setting out to help other people you actually help yourself.
For more information on The Royal Foundation of St. Katharine’s click here.