Many a sandwich and a cup of tea has been bought from one of their stores to give to rough sleepers but now Pret A Manger is offering more to Britain’s homeless – a home and a job.
The sandwich shop chain has teamed up with homelessness charity West London Mission St Luke’s (WLM) to set up The Pret House offering a spot on their Rising Stars programme as well as accommodation.
Pret’s Rising Stars programme, run by The Pret Foundation for a decade, gives 40 jobs at the firm to ex-homeless people every year – a crucial step in providing the stability to break the cycle of homelessness for good.
The London house will accommodate 13 people at a time, with advice also provided to help them transition into the private rental market, with Pret is aiming to help 20 people by the end of 2019.
It is far from the first time that the firm has delved into tackling the issue – they have been donating unsold food to homeless causes since opening their first shop in London in 1986.
There are currently around 1,450 Big Issue sellers working hard on the streets each week.
“Helping the homeless has been part of our promise to our customers and the communities in which we operate,” said Clive Schlee, CEO of Pret.
He added: “We set up the Pret Foundation with the singular purpose of breaking the cycle of homelessness, and to do that, we believe that people need three things: food, employment and shelter.”
WLM will be on hand to help people living at the house to manage their finances with advice on how to open a bank account, save up for a deposit and boost their literacy and computer skills – all crucial to making the move into a home.
While they are living at The Pret House, rent will be paid at an affordable rate relative to their wages.
Minister for Housing and Homelessness Heather Wheeler MP said: “Everyone deserves a safe and stable home to call their own. And this is not just about putting a roof over their heads – but also about ensuring they have the support they need to recover from life on the streets and get back on their feet.
“This important scheme will provide vulnerable rough sleepers with the vital assistance they need to secure their own home and rebuild their lives, and I look forward to hearing about its successes over the coming months and years.”