Pret a Manger’s charitable foundation will open a home for the homeless today (8 February), a first for the food industry.
Known as Pret House at West London Mission St. Luke’s, the home will provide accommodation, employment in Pret a Manger stores and access to expert advice to help homeless people transition into the private rented market.
Pret chief executive Clive Schlee said the project had been a five years in the making.
“Ever since Pret opened its first shop in London, helping the homeless has been part of our promise to our customers and the communities in which we operate,” he said.
“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. This is the next evolution in our efforts to help the ex-homeless live their lives independently.”
Located in London, where more than half of the UK’s homeless live, the home will accommodate up to 13 people at a time.
The housemates can live there for six to 12 months before moving into a privately rented home.
The ambition is to help at least 20 ex-homeless people off the streets by the end of the year.
The project is a collaboration between the Pret Foundation and West London Mission, a charity empowering people affected by homelessness, poverty and trauma.
WLM interim CEO Roger Clark said: “This is an exciting new partnership with a shared vision of ending homelessness.
“We really believe in the positive difference it will make for individuals and the community.”
The home will focus on financial resilience with residents paying a monthly rent relative to their earnings from working in nearby Pret a Manger stores, as part of the Rising Stars programme.
They will each have their own bedroom and will receive advice from WLM on how to get a bank account, save for a deposit, as well as developing wider literacy and computer skills.
Minister for housing and homelessness Heather Wheeler 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.”
Pret has been giving unsold food to the homeless since it’s first branch opened in 1986 and currently donates over 3 million meals across the UK annually year.
The Pret Foundation has supported 462 Rising Stars over the past 10 years, with almost 80% of graduates from the programme becoming full-time employees.