RAW Talent Catch-up

Posted on 25 March 2019

We caught up with John, formally known as Red, for a quick update about the COOK RAW Talent programme.

Watch the video below for a recap of his personal story.


A lot’s changed for John since we made that video. He and his wife are now proud parents to a little boy, who arrived in December. And, a few months ago, he started working a few days a week in the COOK office as a RAW Talent Advocate.


Q: So are you not in the Mix & Weigh Team in the Kitchen anymore?


John: No. I was in Mix & Weigh for over four years, but I’ve now moved to Prep for three days a week, which is easier to balance with the two days I’m in the office.


Q: How’s it been?


John: Overwhelming, to be honest. Eight weeks in and I feel like I’m just finding my feet. I’ve never worked in an office or even used a computer – I don’t even use my phone that much! Luckily Andrew in the office has been teaching me and now I’m hungry to learn more.


Q: What have you and Annie, the RAW Talent Manager, been up to?


John: I suppose the main thing is we’ve met with some partners and possible partners for RAW Talent at COOK. When I was in prison, I felt forgotten. All I could see were the holes in the system. But I’ve been so impressed with the number of organisations and companies now looking into giving people a second chance. It’s humbling.


Q: What have been the highlights so far?


John: So many. I’ve had meetings at the Shard in London, I visited Parliament with the charity Clean Sheet – which was unreal – and I went to Elmley Prison. That was a strange one, as I’d spent a lot of time there as an inmate. I saw a lot of people I knew and seeing the change in me brought a few of them to tears. It was a real moment. The prison officers couldn’t believe it, and said, “We’ll have to get the gov’nor.” In the past, he’d given me a lot of adjudications [the result of a disciplinary offence in prison] but he didn’t even recognise me now. I’m going to talk to a group at Rochester Prison next.


Q: What else is coming up?


John: I’ll be buddying all our new RAW Talents when they arrive, to help them settle in at COOK, as well as talking to all our partners.


Q: Doesn’t all this public speaking make you nervous?


John: Yeah, definitely! But it’s worth it, isn’t it?


To find out more about our RAW Talent scheme, click here.

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