“There are people out there who want to change but they’re just not given the opportunity. Since I’ve been here, I’ve come back alive.”
Rene Percival, RAW Talent since 2015
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 RAW Talent Programme (RAW stands for Ready And Working), supports people who may have spent time in prison or without secure housing.
Finding a steady job – and an understanding employer – can be virtually impossible for people in this situation. Yet it is often the most important factor in helping them get back on their feet. Since we started our RAW Talent Programme in 2014 we have recruited 81 people through the scheme, learning a huge amount along the way.
RAW Talents are allocated a work buddy and given extra support to help them get “work ready”.
A video we made for the 5th anniversary of the programme, featuring some of our team and a few of the RAW Talents themselves.
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 £35k 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 most closely with our local men’s open prison, HMP Standford Hill*.Towards the end of their sentence, RAW Talents who have passed our interview process can commute daily from the prison to COOK for paid work. We offer them a full-time, permanent job, from the word go, available both during and beyond their prison sentence. Since 2014, we have employed over 80 RAW Talents, around a quarter of whom are still with us.
*We do not recruit people on the sex offender register
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 firstname.lastname@example.org