VAL Conway works for the NHS as a consultant nurse, not your standard catering background, but then this is no standard catering company.
Specialising in chronic pain in the community and helping people manage their symptoms long term, Val, who also works one day a week in a prison, realised she could fill a void: “There was a recurring theme that a lot of money was being put into trying to help people whilst there were in an institution or being supported by charities such as Turning Point. But once people got to a stage where they were coping or trying to self manage, there didn’t seem to be any networks and support for them to then take it to the next stage on and get employment and continue to progress in the way they have been.”
The result meant that people were coming back to see her having regressed and almost of all of them told her the same thing, that if they had some support, some training or some employment opportunities and a sort of life line, then they may not be in the situation they were finding themselves in.
Val Conway and Oh Crumbs chef Rob
With this experience to hand, the Community Interest Company (CIC) Changing Live Kent was set up and ‘Oh Crumbs’ was born. Still in its infancy, the catering firm is based at Val’s home until they can find suitable premises and funding.
The long term aim of ‘Oh Crumbs’ is to grow their own produce and cook and serve it from
premises in Folkestone, run a cookery school where they can help people design their menus on a small budget, or for people in a bedsit or with only a microwave to cook in, they can learn how to create one pot cooking.
Right now ‘Oh Crumbs’ has started and with the Chef Rob, Val provides a catering and patisserie delivery service. They can also take pre-orders and cater for corporate events, weddings or parties. All the ingredients used are locally sourced and having met them both just before Rob left for a delivery, I can assure you the food looks outstanding.
Val will be looking to employ people needing the supportive working environment, including ex-offenders and recovering addicts. “Our passion is to help people by educating them, improve their self esteem and self confidence and help them get jobs.
“People are very much individuals and people are also at individual stages of recovery. Getting the timing right for that individual is so important.”
Rob, a recovering alcoholic knows this is a valuable project: “I’ve been sober for a while now. Things are a bit more stable for me so it’s an ideal opportunity not just to add to my own recovery, but hopefully to be able to give back to other people and give them an opportunity as well for recovery.
“It’s kind of also a bridge to normal living for me, I’ve been kind of out of the real world for a number of years now and it’s all about giving back to the real world an living life to the full.”
The advantage of the long term plan is that people who may not be confident enough or simply not suited to front of house can still be part of the ‘Oh Crumbs’ team, by working the land they hope to acquire and there is also delivering the food.
This really is a catering company with a conscience.
To contact ‘Oh Crumbs’ call or text: 07517 339 439