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RAW Talent Programme

Helping people into work after prison, homelessness or other challenges is one of the biggest ways COOK can make a difference in society.

Our pioneering RAW Talent Programme (RAW stands for Ready And Working), supports people into work who would otherwise struggle to find a good job. This might be due to a criminal conviction, time in prison, homelessness, mental ill health, addiction, neurodiversity or refugee status.

Finding a steady job – and an understanding employer – can be virtually impossible. Yet it is often the most important factor in helping them get back on their feet. Since we started RAW Talent in 2014 we have recruited nearly 150 people through the scheme, learning a huge amount along the way.


Watch Red’s Amazing Story

Red spent his childhood in care. He had his first spell in prison as a teenager and his 20s were shaped by drugs and violence. He joined COOK in 2014. His story is remarkable...


Working With People In Prison

If people can leave prison and go straight into a steady job it halves the likelihood that they will re-offend. When it costs the tax payer around £100k on average to secure a criminal conviction and a further £48k a year for their prison sentence, the financial benefits of cutting re-offending rates are considerable. The social benefits, in terms of lives transformed, are priceless.

We work closely with local prisons* including HMP Elmley, Rochester, Standford Hill, East Sutton and Swaleside, as well as with the probation service, job centres and local charities.

*We do not recruit people on the sex offender register nor with convictions for arson or terrorism.

Working With People Who Have Been Homeless

We work closely with Caring Hands in nearby Chatham. This church-run charity operates a drop-in centre feeding people daily. It also supports people out of addiction, helps them into housing and offers voluntary work at its centre. When Caring Hands identifies people it believes are ready for paid work, we offer them a position at COOK. Since 2014 we have recruited five RAW Talents from Caring Hands, four of whom are still with us.

(Figures for cost of convictions and prison from Integrated Offender Management Value for Money Toolkit, 2011)


“It’s not how you go down, it’s how you get back up”

Despite being a promising amateur boxer, drug addiction and prison shaped Rene’s 20s and 30s. He has kindly agreed to share the remarkable journey from his former life to working in the Finishing Team in the COOK Kitchen.


Read Rene's story


Get In Touch:

Annie Gale, our RAW Talent Manager, is always delighted to chat about what we do and why. Drop her a line at rawtalent@cookfood.net

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