The community owned and run pub, the Dog Inn at Belthorn in Lancashire, is opening its brand-new restaurant this weekend with five youngsters who were not in education, employment or training as front of house and kitchen staff.
The restaurant is the latest development for the Dog Inn Community Freehouse since the community took over and re-opened the pub in December 2015 with a newly refurbished bar. Since then they have refurbished and opened community rooms upstairs; a café and shop and are also working on community gardens.
Drawing people from the local surroundings and providing essential services for the community has always been an important part of the group’s ethos. When it came to staffing the new restaurant, the group were keen to provide opportunities for local young people who had not been able to find work. Community nurse by profession and Dog Inn committee secretary in her spare time, Kathryn Sharpe was approached by Glen Duckett who runs the award-winning Eagle and Child in Ramsbottom with the offer of advice if help was needed with the restaurant.
Glen set up a social enterprise project called EAT Pennines whose aim is to train and employ local young people aged 16- 24 to get the skills and experience to get a career in the food sector. Working with local colleges Glen and his team recruit and train young people in hospitality and horticulture and since starting in October 2011 they have supported over 100 unemployed and disadvantaged young people into training and employment with a 70% achievement and progression rate.
Recruitment for the team at the Dog Inn began earlier this year with training for five local youngsters aged between 20 and 24 beginning in earnest at the beginning of May with most of the training taking place at the Eagle and Child. This week the new team plans to move into the new kitchens at the Dog Inn in preparation for this weekend’s opening of the restaurant alongside experienced chef, Tom Reddy.
Each of the trainees had previously struggled to find work for a number of reasons but from this weekend they will be working in the kitchen or front of house at the Dog Inn. From now on, the small team will be training intensely, whilst working closely with Gillian and other members of the EAT Pennines team. The aim at the end of the programme is to give each young person a positive progression, either into a suitable apprenticeship, or into employment. EAT Pennines works closely with each young person to find out what they really want at the end of the programme with focus on their goals.
Gillian from EAT Pennines said: “I’m really proud of this group of young people. They haven’t had the best start in life but they have been keen to learn and develop their skills and the team at the Dog Inn have given them a challenging and rewarding opportunity.”
Kathryn Sharpe from the Dog Inn Community group added: “We are thrilled to be beginning another new chapter for the Dog Inn with the opening of the restaurant this weekend – a result of lots of tireless work by the volunteers. This is a great project and it is a privilege to work alongside the team at EAT Pennines. We hope that this provides an exciting fresh start for our young team.”
The Dog Inn restaurant will be open to public bookings from Saturday 17th June from 6.30 to 9pm with bookings being taken for Father’s Day on Sunday 18th June from 12 midday to 7pm. Telephone 01254 433188 for table reservations.
Pub is The Hub has been involved with the Dog Inn Community Freehouse, Lancashire’s first community owned pub, over the last two years with advice, support, free BII membership and a grant last year to help them to develop their café and shop.
The photograph above shows Jordan Burton, aged 20, who has gained some valuable experience during his training with EAT Pennines.