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Fifteen Cornwall: Inspiring young people to transform their lives

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, United Kingdom

A restaurant in one of England’s most economically disadvantaged areas is giving young troubled people the chance to turn their lives around by training as chefs.

Fifteen Cornwall has helped disadvantaged young people to turn their lives around by training as chefs. Fifteen Cornwall has helped disadvantaged young people to turn their lives around by training as chefs.

Inspired by the celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver, the Fifteen Cornwall restaurant is part of a public-private social enterprise with a mission to empower those who need a second or third chance.

Since 2006, a Jamie Oliver branded restaurant in Newquay has been giving troubled 16 to 24 year olds in the region the opportunity to train as chefs within a nationally-recognised 15-month intensive apprenticeship programme. All trainees were previously unemployed and many are dealing with serious challenges such as suspended prison sentences, criminal records, substance misuse, mental illness, disability or domestic abuse as well as a lack of education and training.

The apprenticeship programme has an annual intake of around 20 trainees who work in the restaurant’s kitchen for a year and gain the skills needed to make it as professional chefs. Before starting their twelve months of training at the restaurant, trainees spend three months in full-time training at Cornwall College and also gain work experience at other restaurants.  After completing their apprenticeships, further work placements are organised at some of the country’s top restaurants, often leading to long-term jobs.

The critically-acclaimed restaurant was built with financial backing from the European Regional Development Fund and is owned by the Cornwall Foundation of Promise, a charity specifically set up to run the training programme at Fifteen Cornwall. Profits from the restaurant have risen year on year and are reinvested in the programme, thereby reducing the reliance on European Social Fund support for participants.

Welfare support

Key to the programme’s success is a unique welfare support system that helps young people access the programme, stay on board and overcome any personal or family-related barriers that hold them back.

Over 90 % of former Fifteen Cornwall apprentices are still in employment after leaving the programme. In seven years, almost 130 young people have passed through the kitchen doors at Fifteen Cornwall and 89 have graduated as chefs with professional qualifications. Of these, 80 % still have full-time jobs in the restaurant industry as a result of the programme and some are now working as head chefs.

The restaurant invests around one million pounds a year back into the local economy through a local produce sourcing policy, creating around 15 jobs in the restaurant’s supply chain. Together with the 75 year-round jobs in the restaurant and charity, the project has created 90 new jobs in addition to the 89 apprenticeships so far completed.

"More than a training restaurant, Jamie Oliver’s inspired Fifteen Cornwall restaurant has created over one hundred new jobs and invests one million pounds a year into local sourcing. Developed through the European Union Regional Development Fund, the social enterprise reinvests profits alongside mainstream funds and the European Social Fund to transform young people’s lives."

  • Matthew Thomson, Chief Executive Offices of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall restaurant and the Cornwall Foundation of Promise.

Technical information


ERDF for the 2007-2013 programming period

Total Investment

EUR 5 882 437

EU Investment

EUR 2 537 000


Managing Authority:
Department of Work and Pensions
European Social Fund Division, Level 2 East, Rockingham House, 123 West Street,
UK-S1 4ER, Sheffield
United Kingdom
James, Ritchie
Tel.: +44 1142948425


The Cornwall Foundation of Promise
On the Beach, Watergate Bay, Newquay
UK-TR8 4AA, Cornwall
United Kingdom
Project Manager
Matthew, Thomson
Tel.: +44 1637861000

Draft date



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